At his most recent meeting, Commissioner Robert Jones announced plans to relocate several court offices while renovations are underway at the Pickens County Courthouse.
The county will lease the old federal building/Jasper post office for 24 months at $5,000 per month. The building is located beside West Church Street between Mark Whitfield and Richards streets, across from the Burnt Mountain Trading Company.
The building, owned by Old Towne Developers, LLC, will temporarily house the probate office, the magistrate office, the district attorney’s office, county probation, a small office for the Pickens County Sheriff, and Pickens County Superior Court Judge Brenda Weaver’s office. It will also contain a small courtroom and an area designated for visiting judges.
Above, the building in downtown Jasper where court offices will temporarily be located during courthouse renovations.
Jones said these offices will be relocated around November of this year.
According to Jones, the County Annex Building will remain operational during renovations, expected to begin in spring of 2012.
At the Thursday, Aug. 25, meeting, the county also entered into an agreement with JKH Architects of Dalton, Ga. for renovations on the courthouse.
JKH’s Bruce Jennings, the primary architect for the Pickens Courthouse project, also designed the Gilmer and Fannin county courthouses and Dalton City Hall.
While Commissioner Robert Jones said some members of the Pickens County Courthouse Advisory Committee had some minor issues with work Jennings did on the Fannin courthouse, he said the Dalton-based architect came highly recommended by superior court judges from Gilmer and Pickens counties.
“Some on the advisory committee had some issues with Jennings,” Jones said, “but there again, we did check in on those issues. When it came to the courthouse in Fannin County, I think a lot of them did not like the library [being located inside the courthouse]…and there were some other small issues with the heating and air conditioning, but what you’ve got to remember is the commission in Fannin County was also putting their two cents in as the project come up…and they got involved in it,” Jones said. He noted the Fannin County Commission made changes to Jennings’ design after the architect had completed the drawings.
Pickens County Courthouse Project Manager Thurman Slone echoed Jones’ statements.
“Different people [in Fannin] got involved and changed the parameters that Bruce was working under,” Slone said. “A lot of those didn’t get Bruce’s approval when they were done.”
Commissioner Jones noted that Jennings has been on board with the SPLOST-approved courthouse project here since before the SPLOST vote in February of 2008, and he reiterated the fact that Jennings came highly recommended by county judicial officials.
“[Jennings] came in when we did the SPLOST,” Jones said. “He was highly recommended by [Judge] Brenda [Weaver] and [Judge Roger] Bradley, and he helped us pull the SPLOST together, because…the courthouse was one of the [proposed] projects.
“Since Judge Weaver had worked with them, we thought it would be a good idea to keep him abreast and have him help with Pickens County, because he knows how the area works,” he said.
Rec. director anticipates new community center/gym
In her commissioner’s report, Pickens County Rec. Department Director Melinda Goss expressed her excitement regarding the opening of the new community center/gym near Roper Park on Camp Road.
“We’re excited about opening, because not only will we be operating for the youth of Pickens, but we will be able to broaden our horizons and offer stuff for the adults,” she said. “You name it, we can offer it.”
Goss, who hopes the center will be completed in time for basketball season, said it will allow the county to offer a variety of services from exercise classes to arts and crafts to a community room for reception or meeting rentals.
“We’re lucky and glad we have the opportunity to expand our department,” she said.
Goss also noted that soccer and softball seasons are now underway. There are 240 kids in the soccer program. Games will begin on September 24. There are 10 softball teams who play games Sundays beginning at 2 p.m.
Basketball registration will begin at the end of September and run through mid-October.
County to reduce energy costs at government buildings
Commissioner Jones also announced the county’s agreement with Global Control Solutions for the installation of a system that will reduce energy costs at the Pickens County Administration Building, the 911 center and the community center/gym when it is completed.
The new $30,000 system will allow the county to monitor and control the heating and air systems in the buildings via one master control system.
Jones said there are 21 heating and air units located at the administration building and four at the 911 center.
“We want some sort of master control, so we can control the efficiency of these units,” Jones said.
Commissioner makes board appointments
•Michael White was appointed to the Pickens Family and Children Services Board for a five-year term beginning July 11, 2011 and ending June 30, 2016.
•Jerry Edwards was appointed to the Development Authority of Pickens County to fill the unexpired term of Mark Whitfield, to end September 8, 2013.
•Joe Hendricks was reappointed to the Highland Rivers Community Service Board for a three-year tem beginning July 1, 2011 and ending June 30, 2014.