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BENTONVILLE -- Benton County's justices of the peace approved Tuesday allowing the county judge to search for a marketing research firm to gather information on the proposed courts building.

The Committee of the Whole approved declaring market research a professional service. Declaring the work a professional service eliminates the requirement the county seek bids.

The county has been working on a courts building for several years. The county is working on a building on Second Street in downtown Bentonville with an estimated cost of $25 million. The justices of the peace have discussed funding options such as cutting the budget; using fines, fees and forfeitures or other revenue; and a dedicated sales tax to cover the cost.

Early studies identified possible sites downtown and another on county land near the Benton County Jail on Southwest 14th Street. The Quorum Court last year decided to keep the courts downtown.

The most recent concept showed a building of four stories with about 86,000 square feet of space on a site on Northeast Second Street. There will be space for eight courtrooms, jury deliberation rooms and judges' chambers with additional space for the Circuit Clerk, County Clerk and other related offices. The county now has six circuit court judges with five of them being housed in the downtown area and the sixth housed at the Juvenile Justice Center on Melissa Drive.

Tom Allen, justice of the peace for District 4 and chairman of the Finance Committee, said the panel will resume discussion of the project and how to pay for the building at the committee's Feb. 6 meeting.

County Judge Barry Moehring said he'll have a design update for the justices of the peace at that meeting, which will include renderings of the building and a more detailed breakdown of the costs.

The committee also heard an update on the convenience center program. The county partners with the Benton County Solid Waste District to provide residents a way to dispose of unwanted household items and household waste.

Wendy Bland, the director of the Solid Waste District, and Teresa Sidwell, who oversees the environmental office, gave the justices of the peace information on the volume of material being collected through the program at the collection centers in Centerton, Rogers and Siloam Springs. The program replaces the countywide cleanup events hosted once or twice a year. Bland also told the committee the planned Bella Vista facility will likely open early in 2018.

NW News on 01/10/2018

Print Headline: County OKs market research option

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