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Old jail gets new look
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see what it looked like before

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County Commission Chairman John McIver, City Manager Billy Edwards, Mayor Jim Thomas, Chamber of Commerce Director Kenny Smiley and a small host of guests were jailed Thursday afternoon by order of Hinesville Downtown Development Authority Director Vicky Davis.
The group was immediately released to roam freely in the city's newly renovated old historic county jail. While this opening was an informal and private affair to celebrate the Hinesville DDA's first completed project and future office site, Davis hopes to have a grand opening for the entire public in the near future.
The guests were treated to a catered banquet and most recalled what the jail looked like when they were younger.
"When I was younger and before they closed the building the Jaycee's used to use the building for Halloween as a haunted house," Smiley recalled. "It used to scare the bejesus out of me."
The entire interior had lead based paint that had to be scraped and removed. The wiring and plumbing was brought up to code and one of the jail cells was made into a modern bathroom.
The project took roughly 6 months and there are still a few cosmetic projects that need to be finished.
There is an empty room upstairs that will house Davis' office. She said the workers often joked with her about that room being the former padded cell for the mentally ill. Joking aside, once opened to the public, tours and stories about the jail's past will be available for the public.
Thursday's guests got a sneak peek at some of the old photos of sheriff officials, wall graffiti and photos that will soon line the walls.
Thomas said it is a significant first step toward the redevelopment of the historic downtown district. Davis and Thomas said there are several projects being discussed to help revitalize the city from the center outward. Thomas said they are working on renovating other older buildings and that newer buildings will maintain the appearance of historic Hinesville and add to that small town ambience while growing to meet the needs of the future.
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