Can NEMO Courthouse Be Torn Down?

Kahoka, MO – Clark County residents voted in early February to implement a new cent sales tax.

The money generated would be used to build and maintain a new courthouse in Kahoka. It would also be used to tear down the current courthouse and the nearby Hiller building.

Mark Miles is director of the State Historic Preservation Office. He says his organization should have a say in whether the courthouse comes down.

Miles points to Clark County's use of a $57,500 grant from the Missouri DNR to stabilize the courthouse's foundation.

"As a condition of receiving that money," says Miles, "the county agreed to a preservation covenant on the building. That essentially gives the state the authority to approve changes to the building, including demolition."

Eastern Commissioner Jerry Neyens does not agree with Miles. Neyens says accepting the grant does not lock Clark County into an agreement with the State Historic Preservation Office.

"The grant is a gift," says Neyens, "a one-time deal. It was done in 2008 to preserve the building so it would be functional. As far as we are concerned, a grant is a grant and it is over with."

Neyens says the Clark County Courthouse is a public building and the public has voted to tear the building down.

Miles did not know if legal action could be taken to prevent the eventual demolition of the property.

Another public vote on the courthouse is scheduled for April 6. Residents will be asked to give the county permission to borrow the money to build the new courthouse and tear down the current building.

You can hear more with Mark Miles and Jerry Neyens by clicking the audio link above.