NEW: DOWN WITH THE OLD
JEREMY WALTNER – PUBLISHER
A new era of Hutchinson County government dawned in late November of 2019, when all business moved from the courthouse that had been used for nearly 140 years into a brand-new building located on the top of a hill on the northwestern edge of town, overlooking the tiny county seat of Olivet.
But in the months and years that have followed, those driving along Euclid Street that runs through the center of the town were reminded of what once was, because the old, two-story courthouse remained standing strong. Until, that is, this week.
Demolition of the dilapidated and vacated building began shortly after 1 p.m. on Monday, March 7 as a county-operated excavator began tearing in the structure’s southwest corner, first stripping away bricks before, once through, peeling away much larger swatches of brick, steel, concrete, and other materials.
By the end of the day on Monday most of the east wing had been removed, with work continuing on Tuesday around the backside of the old courthouse.
All debris was being loaded for separation and then disposal at a landfill in Mitchell.
This week’s removal of the old building was the closing act of a big change for Hutchinson County that goes back years to when county officials began discussing what to do with a courthouse that had fallen into disrepair.
Fix it or build new were the options, and after the Hutchinson County Commission decided that constructing a new building in Olivet was the best route to take financially, several options were considered.
And while officials finally decided to build on the hill northwest of the courthouse that had first opened in 1881, it wasn’t a done deal until April of 2018, when voters living in Hutchinson County approved the project on a 1,118 to 582 vote.
Ground was broken in September of 2018, offices were moved 14 months later and business began in the new building in December of 2019.