Brunswick courthouse could be renamed honoring renowned judge

BRUNSWICK COUNTY (WWAY) — Judge Ola Lewis was the longest serving female judge in North Carolina, known for exercising “tough love” and getting those struggling with a addiction they help they needed.

She passed away in December, but in the time she served, Lewis rewrote the book on how the court approaches drug charges. Brunswick County Commissioner Marty Cooke says she raised awareness of opioid epidemic and helped hundreds of residents reach sobriety:

“Ola did things like the drug court to help people get another chance. And I’ve had people tell me, they’ve said, I wouldn’t be alive now if it wasn’t for Judge Ola Lewis.”

Brunswick is the seventh fastest growing county in the country. To accomodate the county, which has grown 32 percent in the past 10 years, the courthouse is being renovated and expanded.

Cooke says it’s more than appropriate to use this opportunity to honor Lewis.

“Judge Ola Lewis has done so many things for the community as a whole as well as how things are done from a judicial perspective in the county. That is almost like what we’re doing with the courthouse. We’re making it so that it’s able to handle things as we move forward.”

The renaming has been months in the making, and when county commissioners discuss it on Monday, the conversation could be controversial.

Commissioner Pat Sykes isn’t against honoring Lewis, just against naming the building:

“I feel that public buildings should not be named after anyone. Brunswick County has already provided a portrait and declaration in remembrance of Judge Ola Lewis.
I am not opposed to naming a courtroom or street after Judge Lewis.”

Commissioner Frank Williams didn’t disclose his opinion, but said, “Judge Lewis left a tremendous legacy in Brunswick County and southeastern North Carolina. Her legacy certainly deserves to be honored, and I believe the majority of our board supports doing so.”

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