Ashley County government and business leaders gathered March 14 to cut the ribbon on the new Crossett courthouse annex.
The county purchased and renovated the building at 303 Main St., in Crossett with the intent of providing dedicated office space in the city for the County Assessor, the Veteran Services Officer, and the Tax Collector. The annex also collects payments for the county solid waste department.
Ashley County Assessor Beth Rush and Veterans Service Officer Cheryl Bailey have been working to ensure the building and the offices inside were ready for business by the grand opening.
Rush initially presented the idea of purchasing the building to the Quorum Court as a way to ensure that the officials who now have offices there could conduct business during the same hours used by the county, rather than having to abide by the hours of operation used by the State Revenue Department, where the Assessor and the Collector were formerly located.
Rush is a Crossett native, and describes herself as a cheerleader for the city. She said she wanted to give back to the community by providing those who have difficulties traveling to Hamburg during their lunch breaks with another location where they can quickly and conveniently conduct their official county business.
The highest concentration of veterans in Ashley County live in the Crossett area, and some of them face difficulties securing rides to the Veterans Services office in the Ashley County Courthouse.
Bailey said she is pleased to provide services at the annex. The parking lot located behind the building and the rear door provide easy access to individuals who utilize wheelchairs.
Ashley County Judge Jim Hudson said that the county had been renting the space for the Assessor and the Collector from the Revenue Department, and that expense was done away with through the purchase of the building.
Hudson said he wanted to again emphasize to the citizens of the county that the Crossett annex is not a replacement for the courthouse, just another location that is available to them to conduct their county business without having to leave the City of Crossett.
Hudson spoke at the grand opening, thanking Shawn Carpenter for the hard work he put into the renovation project and giving credit to both Rush and Bailey. They not only helped work out the logistics of the project, but also worked together to craft the aesthetic of the building and its interior.
Rush admitted she and Bailey are not quite finished decorating. They plan to add some finishing touches to the lobby, including a portrait of Ashley County’s elected officials, which will be visible immediately upon entry through the front doors.
Rush said she chose to have the brick façade of the building painted black so it would stand out.
The addition of the solar-powered lampposts in front of the building provides a light source that is economical.
Those same lamps also give the building an inviting glow when the sun goes down.
The drive-through window allows citizens to conduct business without ever having to leave their vehicles.
Rush said she was relieved that opening day had finally arrived, and Bailey said she was happy and thankful for the way the finished project all came together.
Both Rush and Bailey said they and the rest of the team at the annex are ready to serve the residents of the county in any way they can.
Crossett Mayor Crystal Marshall said the annex provides another opportunity for the city to build on their partnership with the county.
Marshall took a look inside the community-use room, where the Ashley County Quorum Court was ready to host its March meeting.
Marshall commented on the maximization of the space the overall layout of the offices and the community use room provided within the building.
Rush said now that the grand opening of the Ashley County-Crossett Annex is completed, she is looking forward to May.
That’s when Rush said that she plans to have the final details completed regarding the community use room, which will be available for individuals or organizations to rent for events or meetings.
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