When I drive West Main Street, I've been noticing a lot of work at the old church across from the Jackson County Elections Center.

When I drive West Main Street, I've been noticing a lot of work at the old church across from the Jackson County Elections Center.

It looks like they've got windows stacked up outside and other construction material. There is also a big fence all the way around the building. Is the building being remodelled? Is it going to be another church?

— Jim C., Medford

Actually, Jim, the former Bethel Assembly of God Church on West Main Street was purchased by Jackson County for $661,950 in October. Workers are in the process of salvaging what they can before the building, which features a tower, is demolished. The fence has been erected for safety while demolition work takes place.

The county bought two adjacent parcels, totalling about 2 acres, that could be used for extra parking for the elections center. The church property is at 1108 W. Main St., and the parcel behind is at 25 Quince St.

The county doesn't have any plans for the property at this point. The county considered relocating the Sheriff's Department to the property, but Sheriff Mike Winters decided it wasn't a good location because officers would have to fight downtown traffic to respond to emergencies. Another possibility was relocating the District Attorney's Office or another building to house human service offices, though these ideas haven't been fully explored.

The Bethel church, formerly at the Main Street building, merged with another church four years ago. It went on the market for $1.6 million about the time real estate prices began to plummet. A few smaller congregations had leased the building over the past four years.

Other properties purchased by the county near the courthouse have been used for parking or for the county motor pool, which also is on Main Street.

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