Renovations to the old Liberty County Courthouse are on schedule and going well, according to County Administrator Joey Brown.
The two-story building at 100 Main St. was built in 1926 and has seen expansions in the past, but now it’s in the process of coming up to today’s energy standards, Brown said.
“Most of what’s being done over there is being done to make the building more stable and energy efficient,” he said. “The building has aged terribly and we’re addressing some of those issues.”
Construction began on the $2.2 million job in late May, the county administrator said. Buckley & Associates is the architectural firm contracted for the work, while general contractor Lavender & Associates is carrying out the labor, which is projected to end in January.
In addition to some structural changes, the building’s windows will be replaced with thermal windows, Brown said.
“We think that when we’re finished with the project, we’ll achieve a 50 percent energy savings on that structure,” he said.
Once the construction is complete, the building will be home to the Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission, voter registration/elections, the Liberty County Extension Office, and the juvenile court.
The coroner also will have an office in the building, he said.
The Liberty County Extension Office will move from its current location across from the Hinesville Fire Department to an area on the main floor of the old courthouse, where the sheriff’s office used to be, coordinator Robert Bell said.
Though the new space will be smaller than his current facilities, Bell said the move has advantages.
“We should be easier to find by our clients, when you say ‘old courthouse,’ there’s no question as to where it’s located,” he said. The move to an area with more public parking also allows his office to conduct more day classes related to agriculture and natural resource education.
The voter registration/elections office is currently in an old auto parts building on Memorial Drive on land that is intended to become the future home of the library, Brown said. The LCPC will be moving from a rented space.
In a deliberate move to keep juvenile courts distinctly separated from the adult judicial proceedings in the new Justice Center, juvenile court will be in the upstairs court room, and juvenile judges will have offices in the building as well, he said.
When the Voter Registration office relocates to the building’s first floor, the area once used as a second courtroom will house public meeting space and early voting, Brown said. On election nights, it will serve as a public place where results will be announced.
“People will be able to come in versus standing outside for the results,” department supervisor Ella Golden said of the benefits of the move.
Also included in the renovation contract are some modifications to the adjacent courthouse annex, which was built in 1998.
Shuffling of offices will create more space for the public in the tax assessor’s office and allocate more space for the tax commissioner, he said.
As part of the move, information technology for the county will be relocated to a more secure location, he said.