HOUSTON COUNTY, Ga. — Tuesday, Houston County commissioners held their second monthly meeting. One of the big agenda items was the State Court Expansion project. The new court is moving right next to the superior court in Perry.
They broke ground for the building back in December. Chairman Tommy Stalnaker led the project.
The current state court sat in the same building for more than 40 years with no additional space.
Judge Jason Ashford says he's looking forward to moving.
"Being able to have access to Superior Court resources and now have access to our resources as well, and so this is going to be a lot of efficiencies of scale," said Ashford.
The new building features two floors and about 46,000 square feet. It has two courtrooms, a jury assembly room, and office space.
The state clerk, public defender and solicitor offices will be there, too.
Ashford says this will help jurors avoid going to the wrong location.
"There's a lot of confusion right now with jurors because they get a jury summons and they think it's in Perry, and then sometimes, it's the reverse," he said.
Brian Blanton with the Houston County Sheriff's Office says expanding the tunnel system connecting the jail to Superior Court offers a secure way to transport prisoners to State Court, rather than driving across town.
"Between the jail and the courthouse, they have a tunnel that goes underground so the inmates never leave a confined area, so once they move the state court down there, those inmates that are going to state court will be able to travel in that same tunnel, just a different set of elevators to take them to their respective courts," said Blanton.
It saves the county money, too. Ashford credits Chairman Stalnaker for bringing it together.
"It would never have happened if it hadn't been for Tommy Stalnaker, and so we're grateful to him, and grateful for his initiative and making this happen," said Ashford.
JMA Architecture designed the building. International City Builders is the construction group -- they guaranteed the project will stay under $18.3 million and will be complete in 18 months.
The money for this project comes from the voter approved 2018 SPLOST.