McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

September 16, 2010

Pittsburg County Courthouse grand opening Friday

By James Beaty
Senior Editor

McALESTER — Although Pittsburg County’s renovated courthouse opened quietly this summer as various offices moved back into it in stages, it hasn’t had an official grand opening.

That is set to change on Friday, when a grand opening ceremony will recognize the reopening of the Pittsburg County Courthouse.

The public is welcome to attend the ceremony and then tour the courthouse, organizers of the event said.

McAlester High School’s Steel Band is set to kick things off with a performance at 2 p.m., which is expected to be outside the courthouse entrance, weather permitting, followed by a ceremony at 2:30 p.m.

Jimmy Williams and Dr. James Dunagin are helping plan the event. Both are members of the Pittsburg County Economic Development Authority Oversight Committee, which has tracked the project.

“It’s going to be a fairly brief ceremony,” Dunagin said.

“Members of the McAlester High School Choir will sing ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’” to open the program, he said. Also, violinist Michael Ginsburg is expected to play “America the Beautiful.”

Invited speakers include Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Steven Taylor.

Those who have been involved in the project, including the Pittsburg County commissioners, are also expected to address those attending the event.

The renovations are being paid for through a sales tax passed by Pittsburg County residents.

In addition to the regular courthouse, the county acquired the former Public Service Company of Oklahoma building on  Carl Albert Parkway. That building now houses the District 18 District Attorney’s Office.

The new Pittsburg County Election Board office is in a building adjacent to the district attorney’s office, and is set back from the street with a parking lot in its front.

Dunagin noted that the courthouse had originally been the Busby Hotel. He recounted how the hotel had been heavily damaged by a fire, before being renovated and reopened as the new Pittsburg County Courthouse.

It had been a cause for celebration then, and the reopening of the newly renovated courthouse is a reason to celebrate now, said Dunagin.

Both he and Williams are hoping the event is well-attended, so members of the public can see for themselves all of the changes in the courthouse

“We hope all the citizens will come out,” Dunagin said. “It’s such a cause for celebration.”

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.