While many facets of the Young County government are growing every day, from needed labor to requested office space to steadily increasing record storage demands, the Young County Courthouse is staying the same size.

It’s a problem whose solution varies depending on the county official responding to the question. At Monday morning’s Young County Commissioners meeting, Commissioner Mike Sipes presented his answer via a Power Point presentation, making a case for the former Slumber J building two miles south of downtown Graham.

Sipes has been conferring with Lubbock architect Don Dorsey in an attempt to discern the most efficient possible use of the space. The structure, which resides at 3205 S. Highway 16, is now the Young County Annex, and Sipes believes that a suggested conversion plan to create five offices, two restrooms, a break room, a storage closet and a foyer could serve at least as a temporary solution to relieving the swelling Young County Courthouse.

“What we have is a problem,” Sipes told the court Monday. “When the courthouse was constructed, the folks never for a moment thought government would get as big as it has gotten. And as you all know, we’re talking about adding payroll; we’re talking about adding people; we’re talking about adding services. This courthouse has gotten fairly cramped.”

According to preliminary figures given to Sipes by Dorsey, the conversion plan could cost between $75 and $85 per square foot. At about 1,600 square feet, initial estimates top out at around $135,000 prior to additional project expenses. But Commissioner Jimmy Wiley said that as negotiations and bidding processes continue, the price could come down to as low as $50 per square foot.

Each county department has a unique mandate on permanent document storage, Sipes said, and each office has records that need to be properly stored. He added that it is of vital importance that the county get ahead of the problem before it becomes overwhelming.

Read the entire story in Wednesday's Graham Leader.