During a dedication ceremony Saturday morning, downtown Hinesville was crowded with residents who wanted to get a sneak peek inside the new Liberty County Justice Center that sits on the corner of Main Street and MLK Drive.
“I want to welcome you here for a very historic day in Liberty County. It’s definitely a project I think the community should be proud of,” Liberty County Administrator Joey Brown said of the two-year project.
If the weather was any indication of the mixed emotions that have swirled around the construction and $22 million cost of the center, it was right on. The weather during the ceremony started out with a light breeze and a bit of sunshine, then turned to dark clouds that unleashed raindrops upon the heads of those standing and sitting in front of the building’s steps.
Several other officials made comments about the need for spacious rooms to allow jurors to deliberate and judges to move caseloads through more quickly.
Liberty County Commissioner Chairman John McIver recalled his first jury-duty call and how tight and cramped the quarters were for the jurors. The chairman also thanked the city, residents and other officials who were involved in what he called a “time-consuming job.”
“I know that it is well deserving,” he told the crowd of more than 100 people. “It’s a great day for Liberty County — a day we have long waited for.”
The building serves the state, juvenile and magistrate courts of Liberty County along with the office of the clerk of the superior court.
“It’s the power of the mighty brown penny. The brown penny has shown its power once again in Liberty County,” said Marion Stevens, county commissioner. “If you bought something for a dollar, you contributed to this project.”
The outside presentation was cut short by rain after Stevens spoke, keeping the speeches of several politicians — including state Sen. Tommie Williams and state Rep. Al Williams — relatively short.
“Liberty doesn’t exist without justice. I appreciate the fact that you paid for this building through SPLOST,” Sen. Tommie Williams said.
A few members of the audience departed as rain fell harder, causing officials to make the ribbon-cutting ceremony a quick one before summoning guests inside to enjoy light hors d’oeuvres before touring the building.
“It was a long time coming,” Hinesville resident Jasmine Boone said. “The other building was too small. So far it looks good.”
Guests wandered into various offices, including the law library, five courtrooms and various judges’ offices. Each judge had added a personal touch, including college degrees and certifications, some with framed family photos and others with signed Georgia sports memorabilia.
Several offices are equipped with personal bathrooms and custom built-in bookcases filled with law books, candles and potted plants.
“It was wonderful,” Hinesville residents Marcia Whyte said of the new building. “It was good. I’m glad to get a new building, too.”