Hall County courthouse renovations given the green light

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Updated: Wed, 23 Apr 2014 08:13:31 CST

The Hall County Board of Supervisors is still waiting on the floor plans and the costs of 2 options for their courthouse expansion project, but, sudden news of a new county court judge starting is speeding up the process.

It's a surprise for the Hall County Board of Supervisors. A new judge is set to start in just 60 days.

"It was totally unexpected. We didn't know we were going to have to do it this quickly," said Bob McFarland, Chair of the Board of Supervisors.

Board of Supervisor members have known for months that space is limited, that's why they've been discussing a multimillion dollar courthouse expansion, but, with a new judge arriving, renovations couldn't wait any longer.

The court self-help room will serve as a temporary fix for the county's crisis. Due to lack of space there is simply no other place to put the new judge.

"The issue for us was space and there was no place for them to be that worked out with the scheduling for another courtroom," said Pam Lancaster, Chair of the Board of Supervisors.

On Tuesday, all 7 board members voted to approve renovations to the self-help room. They estimate it will cost a minimum of $30,000 to $40,000.

"By keeping him in the courthouse we can maintain our security costs and prisoner transportation cost as compared to putting them in a separate building."

But, Chairwoman Pam Lancaster says the new judge comes just in time.

"They're having a difficult time getting their case load through so I'm sure it's a tremendous relief to county court to hear that they're going to have some help."

The room will be renovated into a makeshifts judge's chambers and hearing room. A recent problem with an air conditioning unit is further proof the courthouse is deteriorating.

"There are some pipes that are very very thin very very much a concern and those can indeed start leaking so that was just another part of the discussion that just simply brought back the attention to the county board that indeed we need to make some decision and move forward as quickly as possible."

Bob McFarland says that he'll probably be talking to the architects in the next day or two. They'll be discussing the next step and how soon a decision can be reached on floor plans and pricing.