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Architects, contractors look at the Hancock courthouse

Contractors, engineers, and a few Hancock County courthouse employees went into what remains of the building to see what's left.

This is the first time they have walked into the building since last week's devastating fire.

"It's completely burned to the structural brick, there's big pine wood beams that have been burned and fallen from the upper stores and there's obviously no roof or ceiling structure in the building," said Mike Cartner, one of the contractors who went into the historic building to see what was left.

He says, "We have been brought in to price the stabilization and the cleanup of the Hancock County courthouse at this point there still developing plans to structurally stabilize the structure, and how to safely get the materials out as they get those plans developed we will be pricing them for the county and the insurance company."

Cartner along with the projects architect, Joe Watkins, say it's a lot of work but they are optimistic about the timeline.

They are hoping once they get the go ahead from a state environmental agency, to have the new building up in 14 months starting from November or December to give them sometime to plan. That's even quicker than Chairman Sistie Hudson's estimate of 2 to 3 years.

The superior court clerk entered the building alongside them both and told Watkins she saw some of her books. Watkins says,
"They were pretty smokey, and the lower the books, obviously the better, so she was pleased to see some of her books that were still legible."

Watkins says they have to wait to start taking things out of the building, but he says getting that building that Sparta calls "Her Majesty" to look the way she did, won't be hard.

He says, "We know exactly every element of this building we may not go back with the same metal elements but we will go back with something that looks just like it, we are familiar the roof plan, so that's the easy part."

Watkins says they are only concerned with the center arch piece, saying, "We'll brace that with steal on the inside and that way we got everything clear to get the road back open."

Cartner says, "It's a tragedy that she's in that shape but we will do what we can to get her back to her original glory."

Watkins says it will take the environmental team about two to three weeks to give them the OK to start working on clearing out the building.

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