September 25, 2018

Heard County Courthouse Undergoing Complete Overhaul

The Heard County Courthouse is undergoing a complete remodel (Photo: Debbie O’Neal/Times-Journal)

(Franklin/Times-Journal) — For over 20 years, grand juries in every session have asked that changes be made to address deficiencies in the Heard County Courthouse.

Built in the early 1960’s, the building has been plagued with problems for many years; inadequate office space, inefficient, aging HVAC systems, design flaws, security deficiencies, and certainly a lack of appeal.

Additionally, much of the lower floor still contained mostly unused, wasted space in the jail cells that had been abandoned when the new jail was constructed in 2005.

SPLOST IV, voted on and passed in 2013, authorized the Board of Commissioners the funding to implement a process to remedy the maladies of the old, tired, structure.

Much conversation and thought was given to the best way to make the improvements within the projected revenues available.

A plan was formulated in early 2016 to move all non-Court offices into an administration building then utilize the entire Courthouse for court services.

The plan called for a complete gutting of the structure to create larger offices and to allow for the upgrading of the structures electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems.

An overhaul would also drastically reduce the costs for the security systems which are now mandated for all new courthouse construction.

Sheriff Ross Henry and court personnel worked with a design firm to create a floor plan which combined smaller offices into suites for the various courts that will be located there; Probate, Magistrate, Superior, District Attorney, and Public Defender.

The new layout will provide more secure sallyports for transporting inmates, an elevator and functioning stairwell for moving inmates into the courtroom. Chambers for Judges and Juries will be enlarged and made adequate for their needs.

“It was important to us in planning the layout to resolve as many of the issues of the old courthouse as possible and to do it within the dollars projected to come from SPLOST,” says Sheriff Henry.

“This plan allows us to meet the security requirements and to provide excellent security and will improve the looks and functionality of the building. Without SPLOST dollars, this wouldn’t have been possible. SPLOST tax dollars provide us the cars, the equipment, and the buildings necessary for us to protect the public.  SPLOST dollars aren’t a luxury, they’re a necessity.”

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