(Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Wednesday, February 05, 2014 5:03 PMDERIDDER — Planning for the massive renovation of the Beauregard Parish Courthouse is in the final stages, according to officials. Bobby Hennigan, parish administrator, told the Police Jury building committee Tuesday that the parish is working out the final plans with architect Paul Lemaire. “(Lemaire) is close to, I think, tying down the floor plan and other details with the judges, so he’s proceeding on with plan development,” Hennigan said. The $10 million renovation is slated to begin construction January 2015 and will double the 33,000 square feet of usable space in the courthouse. One of the main goals of the construction will be bringing the nearly century-old building up to code with the Americans with Disabilities Act. It will have accessible bathrooms and two elevators, and will feature updated technological amenities. In anticipation of a growing population, officials will add another courtroom to the building. Police jurors and the architect are still working out the kinks, however. Hennigan said one of the major issues will be dealing with how to preserve the courthouse as a building listed with the National Register of Historic Places. Despite the two-year construction plan, court will still be in session. The parish will begin moving courthouse operations next door to an empty church, its home during the renovation. The move will begin this fall. The Police Jury has yet to choose which project on its wish list it will go ahead with: It can replace windows, restore the upper courtroom’s ceiling or replace the south parking lot. Police Juror Llewellyn “Biscuit” Smith said the courthouse will get an expanded parking lot if the panel can find the funding to do it. The south parking lot, according to an independent cost estimate commissioned by the panel, would stand to be the most expensive item at $287,623. Voters approved the quarter-percent tax for the courthouse in November 2012.