Renovation work expected to begin soon on Bella Vista court
BENTONVILLE — Renovation work will begin soon on space for a Bella Vista court.
The Bella Vista Department of the District Court of Benton County will be in a complex off Arkansas 340.
Work is expected to begin by July 17, said Jason Kelley, staff attorney for Bella Vista. The city is in the process of hiring a court clerk, Kelley said.
The court is expected to be ready by January, Kelley said. The city received authority to have its own court during the last state legislative session. Judge Ray Bunch, who presides over Bentonville District Court, also will be the judge in Bella Vista.
“We became a city 10 years ago,” Kelley said. “We have to provide for a court just as much as we need to provide for our streets. It’s a necessary part of city government.
“A city of almost 30,000 that has it own police and fire protection should have its own court.”
Bella Vista traffic offenses, traffic ticket fines and misdemeanor crimes are handled in Bentonville District Court, Kelley said.
Bella Vista pays Bentonville $8,700 a month to use its court, Kelley said. One day a month is set aside for Bella Vista cases, Kelley said.
Jennifer Jones, chief clerk for Bentonville District Court, said there were 1,367 Bella Vista cases in 2015; 1,146 cases in 2016 and 407 cases so far this year.
Bella Vista Mayor Peter Christie said the city will save money in the long term. The city will pay $4,150 a month to lease the space.
Construction cost for the court will be $104,405. Marion Construction Services Group
will do the work, Kelley said.
Officers will be able to patrol more instead of waiting in Bentonville for their cases to be called, which will save time and money, Kelley said.
Bella Vista resident Charlie Mears said the court will be more convenient than having to go to Bentonville.
Russ Brasuell, another city
resident, said the new court is an excellent idea.
“Bella Vista is now a city,” Brasuell said. “It should act like one.”
Kelley expects residents will begin to pay their tickets in Bella Vista by mid-November.
“It’s our continued evolution to become a city,” Christie said.