Emmitt Yeary doesn’t want the Washington County Courthouse to be relocated to Abingdon’s old Kmart.
“The beauty, honor, vitality and integrity of this town are at stake, as never before,” Yeary told the Abingdon Town Council at its Aug. 5 meeting.
A longtime Abingdon attorney, Yeary addressed the town council for 15 minutes — going far beyond the 3-minute time limit usually imposed for public comments.
But nobody stopped him.
Yeary just kept speaking about the courthouse and other matters.
To let you know: The Abingdon Town Council is not the governing body that is considering such a move of court functions. That falls to the Washington County Board of Supervisors.
County staff members and the Board of Supervisors say the 150-year-old Washington County Courthouse has run out of room and does not have adequate security. And it could be easier, as has been proposed, to relocate offices and court functions to the vacant Kmart, just off I-81’s Exit 17.
But listen to what Yeary has to say about it: “There is a concerted and professionally orchestrated effort and scheme to close the county courthouse and move the court to a shopping center in the old Kmart building,” Yeary told the Town Council.
The courthouse needs to be expanded at its current site, and more parking needs to be made available, Yeary said.
Still, Yeary said, a plan to fix the courthouse — and provide all that it needs, at its current location — could be accomplished for $1 million less than the $25 million estimated that will be needed to buy the Kmart and renovate it into a courthouse.
At the Aug. 5 meeting, Yeary urged the Town Council to tell the supervisors that it wants the courthouse to remain in the historic district of Abingdon.
A proposed move to the shopping center, as Yeary put it, would be “in total disregard of what this would mean to the history and wellbeing and the integrity of the town.”
And if the courthouse does move to the Kmart?
“Can’t you just see the jokes and all that will be made about this town?” Yeary asked.
“I can just see this interstate highway Kmart courthouse with its shopping center judges serving Food City justice,” Yeary said. “And this town will become a laughingstock, and we will be a town for sale and a county for sale. And that will be our legacy.”