THOMASVILLE — A long-awaited community project is about to get off the ground.

The ground-breaking ceremony for the Thomas County Judicial Center is set for 2 p.m. Monday, May 19, at North Madison and Washington streets.

The breaking of ground is only one of three judicial center-related events scheduled for May 19.

Thomas County commissioners have called a meeting for 11 a.m. that day in the third-floor courtroom at the Thomas County Courthouse to hear the judicial center architect’s recommendation about a contractor for the project.

County commission office information shows the architect will recommend the lowest and best bid.

At noon that day, commissioners will eat lunch with the contractor at Thomas County Emergency Center on Remington Avenue.

At 2 p.m. Thursday, bids on the project will be opened and certified at the emergency center.

The $10 million judicial center will be funded by revenue from a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST).

Construction, which will require about 18 months, is to begin July 1. Jack Pyburn of Atlanta is the lead architect.

Seven contractors have been prequalified to bid.

“We anticipate all or most of them will bid, judging from the questions the architect has been getting,” said Mike Stephenson, county manager.

Stephenson said there has been a high level of interest in the project.

Next, a $6 million renovation/restoration Thomas County Courthouse project will begin.

Once the new structure is completed, courts and court-related offices will move from the historic courthouse across Madison into the new building. Voter registration also will move into the new building.

It has not been determined which county offices will be housed in the historic courthouse, built in 1858 and among the state’s oldest in continuous use.

Senior reporter Patti Dozier can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 220.

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