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Hutchinson Co. to build new courthouse in Olivet

OLIVET — Hutchinson County will soon have a new home for its courthouse, but it will remain in Olivet.

The Hutchinson County Commission has decided to demolish the current structure and replace it with a new, 23,000-square-foot, one-story courthouse as part of a $4.5 million project. Work is scheduled to begin in early 2018, according to Hutchinson County Auditor Diane Murtha.

Murtha declined to disclose where the new courthouse will be located, aside from saying "it will definitely be in Olivet."

When discussions began earlier this year about renovating or replacing the courthouse, Hutchinson County officials in neighboring towns voiced frustration with the courthouse being located in Olivet — a town with a population of fewer than 100. Other towns in the county, like Freeman, Parkston and Menno, each boast populations of more than 600.

Freeman Mayor Sam Sorensen may have been the most vocal in his opposition to the courthouse's location, saying it would be more convenient to be located in a more-populated city.

But nobody has turned in a petition to send the relocation proposition to a county vote, and the commission is now working on finalizing plans for the new building in Olivet.

"We have the final plans and are getting bid packets ready now," Murtha said.

The idea for the project was sparked by "general wear and tear" on the building, which was constructed in 1881, Murtha said.

Because the commissioners have been anticipating the project for more than a half-decade, members have been saving funds, totaling more than $2 million, to dedicate to the project.