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Hall courthouse annex move delayed by pace of deputy hiring
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Hall County Assistant County Administrator Marty Nix, left, construction project manager Dwaine Wilson and county spokeswoman Katie Crumley stand outside the Hall County Courthouse Annex after a tour of renovations in Gainesville on Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017. - photo by David Barnes

The shuffling of courts from the main Hall County courthouse to the renovated annex will be delayed further partly because of hiring struggles with the Hall County Sheriff’s Office. The move is not expected to be complete until late July.

In an email from Sheriff Gerald Couch to county and court administration, Couch said the department has “substantially increased” recruiting efforts but still needs a large number of certified deputies.

“The majority of those being hired are not (Peace Officer Standards and Training Council) certified and must be sent to the police academy. Our next group of jailers is not scheduled to graduate from the police academy until sometime in June. These folks will still need time to be trained in courthouse safety and security,” according to an email obtained by The Times.

Juvenile Court and Probate Court will move to the annex.

Magistrate Court, currently on the second floor, will move to the former Juvenile Court courtrooms on the third floor. This creates space needed for newly appointed Superior Court Judge Clint Bearden’s courtroom and a third State Court courtroom.

Court officials previously told The Times the move-in would be between late April and June, but those dates were tentative because of the sheriff’s office security plan.

“We will also need time to thoroughly test and evaluate the camera system and screening equipment which will not be installed (until) later this month. Having a safe and secure courthouse and courthouse annex can only be accomplished by having proper safety systems in place and it being properly staffed to accomplish that mission,” according to Couch’s email.

The new timetable starts in mid-May and has the annex fully open and operational on July 23.

In a statement, the sheriff’s office said Couch has been in frequent contact with judges on the department’s progress.

“In the actual facility, there is still work to be done. Crews are in the process of installing items like doors and carpet. While some security equipment is in place, installation of additional hardware and wiring and its subsequent testing remain. As the facility work is moving along, we’re busy continuing the process of hiring,” according to the statement.

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