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Hall taking steps to moving juvenile, probate courts to courthouse annex
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A plan to renovate the Hall County Courthouse Annex and move juvenile and probate courts there may pick up serious steam this week.

The Hall County Board of Commissioners is set to vote Thursday to spend $174,300 producing designs, a structural analysis and other documents “for us to build the project,” said Kenneth Rearden, Hall’s public works and utilities director.

“We can get a little better handle on the budget, as well,” he said.

Officials would like to see costs of the project run below $3 million, perhaps around $2.5 million, Rearden said.

Inmate labor may be involved as a cost-reducing measure, with the project otherwise funded by special purpose local option sales tax money, he said.

The issue came up Monday at the commission’s work session, with a presentation by Hall County Court Administrator Reggie Forrester on the potential project.

“It has a number of benefits,” he said.

Primarily, the move would free up space in the Hall County Courthouse, where juvenile and probate courts now operate, and allow for growth, including the eventual addition of a fifth Superior Court judge.

“It also would benefit the jurors, witnesses, (legal) parties and just general citizens who do business in the courthouse,” Forrester said.

He said the move could extend the life of the courthouse by up to 18 years.

Hall County Commission Chairman Richard Mecum spoke to that concern as well.

“Future growth is going to be a major problem for the county,” he said.

Several options concerning the annex and move have been looked at, but doing nothing at all is “not practical,” Mecum said.

“The courthouse, right now, is almost at a point of just total dysfunction,” he said. “It’s not functioning well.”

If the commission gives its OK Thursday, the preliminary efforts may take four to six months to complete, Rearden said.

One thing is for certain, he added.

“We’re going to keep Reggie involved as we march through this,” Rearden said.