CNHI News Service
From additional space in criminal investigations and narcotics divisions, to a better line of sight for judges, to more storage space, the Jail-Justice Center is about to undergo the first major renovation since the building opened in 1992.
The $2 million project — funded by a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax — will get off the ground in September, with completion scheduled for 10 to 12 months later.
Jason Harpe, vice president of Champion, Childers, Harpe, project contractor, said the judge’s bench in the building’s courtroom will be demolished.
“There is not a good line of sight,” Harpe said Wednesday. “The working space is cramped.”
A mock scenario will be set up to establish a line of sight from the judge’s bench to the witness box and to seating for court clerks. A new judge’s bench will be constructed accordingly.
Harpe said courtroom square footage will remain the same. The room will receive new paint, ceiling tiles and carpeting.
Harpe met with Thomas County commissioners Wednesday morning.
In Magistrate Court, office and storage space will be increased, and private restrooms will be added. “They’re almost doubling their space,” Harpe told the Times-Enterprise after the meeting.
The jail portion of the building is not included in the project.
Narcotics, police and sheriff’s criminal investigations areas will undergo a complete overhaul. The areas will receive new work stations and new interview rooms in an additional 1,000 square feet.
Sheriff’s office and police department administrative offices will occupy an additional 8,200 feet to be added on the front of the 921 Smith Ave. structure.
Narcotics and criminal investigations will expand into what is now the conference room and sheriff’s and police administrative offices.
A new conference room and lobby will be constructed.
Construction at the front of the structure will displace 40 existing parking spaces. The parking area will be expanded into a grassed area at the front of the building.
The amount of parking space should be looked at carefully, considering future natural community growth, Thomas County Sheriff Carlton Powell told commissioners.
Additional square footage will, by local ordinance, require more parking spaces, Harpe said after the Wednesday meeting.
One of the two law enforcement agencies now housed at the Jail-Justice enter probably will have to relocate in 15 to 20 years, Harpe said.
The expansion will enhance all offices housed at the Jail-Justice Center, he added.
Senior reporter Patti Dozier can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1820.