Prisoners are demolishing the Hall County courthouse annex.
It’s one of the ways the county is saving money on the $2.5 million renovation of the courthouse annex at 115 E. Spring St., formerly the county’s primary courthouse. The special purpose local option sales tax project is scheduled to finish in January, Public Works and Utilities Director Ken Rearden told the Hall County Board of Commissioners on Monday.
County inmates have been busy for weeks demolishing the three-story structure’s interior, taking the building down to its framing before the county brings in subcontractors for the technical work — elevators, air handling, electric and plumbing.
The annex became part record storage, part county offices after the current courthouse was constructed on Green Street. When Hall County government relocated to 2875 Browns Bridge Road in 2012, the Spring Street annex was left empty.
“We’re getting another judge in January, and they’re going to need to free up some courtroom space over” in the annex, Rearden said on Monday.
The annex will house the county’s Juvenile Court, Probate Court and the records room of the clerk of courts.
The county’s hope with the move is to extend the life of its courthouses and accommodate the growing demand on its Juvenile Court., which deals with much longer cases than those in other courts, Juvenile Court Judge Joe Diaz previously told the Times.
“You go into court and you argue your case. You win, you lose, you walk out. That’s the end of that case,” he said. “In Juvenile Court, we’ve got these kids for anywhere from a month to five years, so it’s a process.”
Almost all of the improvements are inside the building. Other than pushing the front entrance about 30 feet toward the sidewalk to accommodate a new security system, not much will change for the exterior of the annex, according to Rearden.
Walking through the annex on Tuesday, the county’s project manager, Dwayne Wilson, said the work was going well — despite rumors that there are a few ghosts running around the old building.
Demolition began just more than three weeks ago, and Wilson said he expects that phase to be done ahead of schedule. The county budgeted six weeks for the demolition, after which contractors will start work installing two new elevators in the annex.