January 11, 2005
by Stephen Ryan
Thomasville-- In spite of its stately beauty, the Thomas County courthouse is bursting at the seams. It’s short a courtroom, and with boxes stacked on top of each other in the clerk's office, it's also short on space.
Now the county is hoping for a new sales tax to pay for a new courthouse.
Shoulder to shoulder, and side-by-side, employees in the Thomas County courthouse are crowded and it'll take money to get more room. "The proposal is because we need the space, and for security reasons," said county Commissioner Mary Jo Beverly.
It'll take $12 million to build a new courthouse. The old court will house the tax assessor and the tax collector also will be moved there, and another four or five million to renovate the old one.
The proposed site for the new courthouse is virtually a stone's throw away from the old one. It’s on an empty lot on the corner of Madison and Washington Streets in downtown Thomasville.
An architect from Valdosta is working on the preliminary plans for the project. But seeing them become a reality is up to the voters of Thomas County. “February 10th I believe is the earliest we can call for a referendum to be put on the ballot for a March election.” said County Commission Chairman Josh Herring.
Built in 1858, the Thomas county courthouse is the seventh oldest in Georgia, but it's not technologically appropriate for today's court system and a lot of the historic spaces have been compromised.
Beverly says it would not be economically feasible to bring the existing courthouse up to current standards. About 30 percent of the sales tax money raised would come from people outside Thomas County.
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