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Bicentennial committee seeks nonprofit status

As soon as the county’s bicentennial committee gets an OK on becoming a non-profit organization, it will gear up its fundraising campaign to recreate the county’s first courthouse.

This week the committee filed paperwork to gain a 501c3 classification so any contributions to it would be tax deductible for the donors.

“We should know in four-to-six weeks,” Lawrence County Commissioner Bill Pratt said.

Columbus architect Rod Arter is working on final plans on the replica of the original courthouse that stood near the Ohio River in Burlington. Pratt estimates it will cost close to a quarter of a million dollars to build. Already the county has about a half of an acre near the first jail donated to the project.

The actual bicentennial is Dec. 20, 2016, but the committee would like to dedicate the building in early fall of that year. Besides acting as a historic symbol of the county’s early days, the building would also serve as a community center for the eastern end of the county, Pratt has said.

Possible funding sources could come from the $20,000 the commission is allowed by law to give annually to such a project, plus a portion of the $130,000 in Community Development Block Grants the commission gets.

Pratt is also hoping such organizations as the chamber of commerce and its members could make contributions.

Once the final design is decided, the committee is also considering offering honorary memberships available for pledges in exchange for a commemorative flag.