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Hall County needs to clean out clutter, stick to plan to meet space needs

Junk piles up, and some say taxpayers deserve better.

“Where do you suppose this came from?”

Doug Lanfear holds a window found in Hall County’s “storage building.”

Two by fours are stacked in one hallway. A large open space is filled nearly to the ceiling with filing cabinets and broken chairs. Lanfear, a member of the Hall County Board of Supervisors says some are antiques, but most of it is junk.

“I think we'll find a rotary dial telephone,” he said.

Hall County faces a space crunch; Courts are growing, and it’s likely a juvenile court will be added.

And just steps from the courthouse is an entire building, that’s being used for storage.

Lanfear said, “When I first came on the board, all anybody talked about was tearing this building down.”

But he sees offices in the former Health Department building, and a consultant agrees.

Lanfear said, “The architect's right, this is a very solid, well–constructed building.”

On the other side of the courthouse is the Annex, the former law enforcement center. And just a block away is the old federal building. Those are all owned by the county, but deciding how to use them seems to change by the day.

County Supervisor Jane Richardson said, “We've kind of been on the flavor of the month approach it seems like.”

Architect Jerry Berggren says the county's in better shape than it realizes. The county has space that can be used better than it’s being used now, and some of the buildings on the government campus can help the growing court system.

He told the board, “One thing we've learned over the years is you can't get enough space around courts.”

He presented the county with a facilities master plan, something county supervisors say they have needed.

Jane Richardson said, “It's for 10, 20, 30 years down the road and it's exactly what we need so we don't keep piecemealing these ideas together.”

The cramped Health and Human Services building and old jail would be torn down. Seven other buildings could see changes. There's no interest in a bond issue, so expect this to take years.

“As the money becomes available, at least we know where we're going in the future,” Richardson said.

And Doug Lanfear's ready to hang up on history.

“I'm still looking for that rotary dial telephone.”

Hall County Master Plan:

  1. Relocate County Attorney to the Old Federal Building.
  2. Vacate Storage Building (former Health Department).
  3. Relocate HHS to Storage Building
  4. Renovate County Annex upper floor for County Courts. Renovate the lower level as a secure entrance for judges and court officials. Keep Veteran's Service Office on main level, and leave some space for juvenile court.
  5. Build a single entrance for both courts. Tear down the old jail and close South Pine Street.
  6. Complete relocation of the County Attorney to the Federal Building.
  7. Complete build out of Plaza Building for Adult Probation.
  8. Consider value of Beltzer Building as home for Public Defender, Juvenile Diversion, and/or Veterans Service Office. That building currently houses the County Attorney.
  9. Develop a new shop and maintenance building.
  10. Reconsider main floor of the Old Federal Building for VSO or Juvenile Diversion.

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