Official revisits courthouse issue

Robert Smith rsmith@pawhuskajournalcapital.com
Commissioner Paslay indicates a new round of discussions will be held about replacing the aging county courthouse.

The chairman of the Osage County Board of County Commissioners last week said he anticipates official consideration of arrangements for a new county courthouse to begin soon.

District 2 Commissioner Kevin Paslay made the brief comment at the end of a county board meeting, but did not immediately elaborate about any details.

Discussion of a possible new courthouse is not a new subject in Osage County. The topic has been raised several times in the past decade without any satisfactory resolution being achieved. Concerns about payment for any county courthouse project, as well as concerns about providing the most effective and efficient service for residents throughout Osage County will have to be addressed in a manner that encourages public support.

In a followup telephone interview, Paslay said he has intended for some time to bring up the subject of the courthouse, but wanted to wait until after the Nov. 6 elections before doing so.

“Now that the election is over, we’re going forward on it,” Paslay said.

During the interview, Paslay indicated he’s in the process of talking to people with a view toward assembling a committee to discuss and debate project details. He named former Hominy city manager Gary Lanham, Mike Tolson of Pawhuska and a lawyer named Jeff Raley among those he’s talked with so far.

Another issue likely to rear its head in connection with any discussion of improving or replacing the courthouse is whether leaders throughout the county are consulted early on and then frequently throughout a project development process.

Paslay, who is a former Skiatook city councilman, is likely to be intimately familiar with the anxieties of residents of the southern portion of the county about whether their voices are heard in Pawhuska and their needs are effectively addressed.

Another issue likely to draw a fair amount of comment is whether Osage County will seek, as an element of any facilities upgrade project, to improve its offering of online services.