A longstanding suite of offices across from the Joplin courts building will be purchased by Jasper County.

Commissioners this week approved the purchase of a building at 606 S. Pearl Ave. for $850,000 from R. Deryl and Marilyn Edwards. The building includes 608, 610 and 614 S. Pearl Ave. and an empty lot behind at 601 S. Byers Ave.

County Attorney Norman Rouse, who negotiated the contract for the sale, said the office building has been there since the courts building went up in 1975.

R. Deryl Edwards' law practice is located in the office at 606 S. Pearl Ave. He will have to move to another location, he said, but his practice mostly involves federal court work, so he does not have many clients who come to the office.

"I'll miss it, but the building (location) really interfered with what the county planned on doing. I wanted to accommodate that," Edwards said. "They are giving us plenty of time to get out."

Rouse told the commission the county intends to give tenants sufficient time to vacate before it takes possession of the property.

"Basically we will buy the building this year and take possession of it in May, and when all the tenants are gone there will be demolition," Rouse said.

Edwards said he has written his tenants a letter to advise them of the sale and told them they have until May 31 to relocate.

The county is working on a $50 million courthouse and jail project. It includes $35 million to acquire property, tear down the former First Baptist Church next to the existing Joplin courts building and construct a larger courts building. The money also will fund a $10 million expansion of the Jasper County Jail in Carthage and a $5 million remodeling project of the upper floors of the Carthage courthouse to add a courtroom and more secure spaces for jurors, witnesses and victims.

Funding is provided by a quarter-cent sales tax extended by voters in the April 2 election. That sales tax originally was passed in 2016 to build a new Juvenile Justice Center in Joplin, which recently was completed, and to make renovations at the Carthage courthouse.

A contract with Crossland Construction Co. to manage the construction projects was approved earlier this month by the Jasper County Commission.

A completion date was not set because the scope of the work is still being determined.

The project at the Carthage courthouse involves the entire third floor and part of the second floor to reconfigure and remodel those spaces. An additional nonjury courtroom is to be built on the second floor.

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