Should Osceola keep its courthouse? The New York Times weighs in. | Arkansas Blog

Friday, June 19, 2015

Should Osceola keep its courthouse? The New York Times weighs in.

Posted By on Fri, Jun 19, 2015 at 6:44 AM

click to enlarge GRAND DOME: Obsolescence looms in Osceola. - ASSOC OF ARKANSAS COUNTIES
  • GRAND DOME: Obsolescence looms in Osceola.

The New York Times has a colorful little story about a debate in Mississippi County over the possible closure of the courthouse in Osceola, thus consolidating county functions into its counterpart in Blytheville

I'll be honest: I didn't know that counties with two seats of government were such a rarity, or unique to our neck of the woods. Evidently so:

Most of the counties with two seats — 20 — are in Arkansas and Mississippi, the National Association of Counties said. But there is scarce agreement about why those counties adopted such an approach.

Many residents, often supported by local historians, contend that multiple courthouses are vestiges of the pre-automobile era, constructed so that people could be within a day’s travel of public officials like judges and tax collectors.

Others suggest that the imposing structures — the one here features a copper dome — were merely pork-barrel projects to aid the electoral ambitions of calculating county politicians.

Evidently, the question about whether to consolidate county functions into the larger town of Blytheville will be put to a popular vote in 2016. A group in Osceola is fighting to keep their courthouse open. The county judge, Randy Carney, says the sensible thing to do is to consolidate:

“It’s the centerpiece of the town, but it’s not busy,” he said in an interview in the courthouse here. “We have to be good stewards of the taxpayers’ dollars, and I think throwing tens of thousands of dollars away every month in utility bills and maintenance costs is just not wise.”

The article doesn't mention another reason why a county might have wanted to have dual seats in the days before easy travel: Being traversed by a river. That was supposedly the case in Franklin County, where I grew up (it was Ozark north of the Arkansas, Charleston to the south). But Mississippi County has no such excuse. The only thing between Osceola and Blytheville is I-55 and the bad blood of a mismatched football rivalry.

Tags: , , , , ,

Sign up for the Daily Update email

Comments (11)

Showing 1-11 of 11

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-11 of 11

Add a comment

More by Benjamin Hardy

Readers also liked…

  • Women's March planned in Arkansas to mark Trump inauguration

    Speaking of Donald Trump and in answer to a reader's question: There will be a women's march in Arkansas on Jan. 21, the day after inauguration, as well as the national march planned in Washington.
    • Dec 30, 2016
  • French Hill votes against disaster aid to Puerto Rico

    Republican U.S. Rep. French Hill alone among Arkansas's House delegation voted last week against a measure that provided $36.5 billion in disaster aid, a portion  for hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico as well as money for wildfire response and to support the flood insurance program.
    • Oct 14, 2017
  • Trump immigration protest at LR: Quick and fierce

    It was not even 24 hours ago that Sophia Said, director of the Interfaith Center; City Director Kathy Webb and others decided to organize a protest today of Donald Trump's executive order that has left people from Muslim countries languishing in airports or unable to come to the US at all — people with visas, green cards,a  post-doc graduate student en route to Harvard, Google employees abroad, families. I got the message today before noon; others didn't find out until it was going on. But however folks found out, they turned out in huge numbers, more than thousand men, women and children, on the grounds of the state Capitol to listen to speakers from all faiths and many countries.
    • Jan 29, 2017

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments



© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation