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Dentists starts working on new office as justice center looms

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POSTED: February 11, 2009 11:18 a.m.

Businesses continue to be bounced around as the county expands the cleared area for the new justice center downtown.

But Liberty County may be losing a little bit of history when two buildings are torn down.

"It’s just an old part of the Hinesville and this building has been here about 40 years," said Dr. Bill Wege.

He bought his Bagley Avenue dentistry office in 1974 from Allen Bryant, son of Glenn Bryant, who founded the area’s former Coastal Communications phone company.

"He went to dental school and got out and he built this building and then built the other half," Wege said.

The Disabled American Veterans is using the half Wege doesn’t occupy. The group has been told the county will move them to the courthouse annex.

His settlement with the county for the 5,393 square-foot lot was $662,085 in 2006. The other adjoining property, co-owned with Johnny Zoucks and Larry R. Golden settled for $119,165.

"I actually heard at church four years ago last December that they were considering this spot," Wege said. "I planned on staying here until I retire, but I recognized the fact of progress and the county was very fair."

Frank Scheidt, the local DAV chapter’s judge advocate, spoke on behalf of Commander Garlon Penland.

"We haven’t been given any guidelines as far as when we’ll be moving," Scheidt said. "We’ve known for quite awhile that this was going to happen."

The group anticipates more foot traffic, with the onset of the new Fort Stewart brigade, and the move to the annex will work in everyone’s favor.

"It’s easier for veterans to find than the location here and that’s what we’re here for, to service the veterans in the local area," Scheidt said.

Wege is building his own new office in a vacant lot that had been the county’s on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. For a time the DAV was on that lot, in a building that has since been taken down.

"They put up the black paper up today and are starting work on the site plan," Wege said, estimating five to six months of construction.

Bagley has not been known as a business area. Hinesville native Wyman May, 79, remembers only the Caswell hotel in the area.

The whole Hinesville business district was dormant until Camp Stewart was established in 1940.

"It grew until 1945, when the war ended and they pulled all the troops out of here," May said. "Everything dried up here and land prices went to nothing."

Spikes and dips in growth were seen until the 24th Infantry Division made its permanent post in the 1970s, according to May.

Wege said he is "not going to be any better off than I am right now," but is not looking forward to parting with his office of 35 years.

"I’m sure I’ll cry when it comes down," Wege teased. "I spend more waking hours here than I do at home."

 

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