The Clermont Town Hall switched buildings last month with the local Hall County Sheriff’s Office precinct to allow it better office setup.
“The only thing we’ve done is switched with the sheriff from one end to the other,” Clermont Mayor James Nix said. “The sheriff had a precinct office in Clermont, and we just switched buildings.”
The Town Hall now occupies the Sheriff’s Office’s former King Street location, and the Sheriff’s Office, the council’s old Dean Street digs. Both offices are still in the process of getting situated.
Nix said the switch was largely to benefit the sheriff’s office, and the town council can make do with extra spaces around town.
“The sheriff’s office wanted a different place — a little different setup, to have room more where they could gather in — and we’re going to be having council meetings in our new renovated gym in the Clermont Community Center, and we’re going to have our council meetings up there,” Nix said.
A sheriff’s office spokesman said the office would be releasing more information on the precinct’s relocation in the near future.
Hypothetically, the council’s current space is just a temporary location for the Town Hall. A historic building across the street has been mentioned as a future home.
“We’d like to, sometime in the future if we can get the money and all that, redo that building, and possibly move the town hall into it,” Nix said. “There’s a lot of options that we could explore as far as using that building for city purposes. Maybe we could even have some museum area in part of it.”
The building is old, requiring extensive renovation.
“We don’t know right now what we can do in there; it’s got to have a lot of work to do inside of it. It’s just old. Older than me and you put together,” he joked. “It’s probably 100 years old or more. It’s one of the original buildings in the town. It used to be the sides of road were lined up with buildings like that when I was a young fella.”
When those buildings were torn down, Nix said the city jumped at the opportunity last year to buy and preserve it.
“Many years ago those were torn down, and that one building, we wanted to preserve it, so that’s the reason when it became available ... we went ahead and bought it,” he said. “We want to keep it for the town to have. It’ll make a nice place; it just takes a lot of money to renovate.”
But where will the money come from?
“I figured that The Times would donate a bunch of money to us to fix that,” Nix cracked.
Jokes aside, any funding for renovation is a few years off, Nix said.
“We don’t have any money budgeted right now for it, and it’ll depend on the next year or so and some of the other projects that we’re working on what we can do,” he said.
Unanticipated changes in special purpose local option sales tax distribution also threw for a loop plans to renovate, he said.
“There’s some SPLOST dollars not coming in the way that was anticipated back when SPLOST was passed. So, we’re not getting SPLOST dollars which could be used to fix a municipal building. That was one of the things that we hoped for at that time, was to do something for the Town Hall,” Nix said. “Essentially we’ll be way short on that. We’ve got to figure out what we can do. We’ve still got a couple years to go on.”
He suggested other sources of funding, like a grant or philanthropic-minded preservationist.
“We can get around, investigate maybe getting some grant money or something to help work on it ... or somebody with a lot of money needs to be real benevolent and give us some, and that would be a big thing,” he said.