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Panel recommends courtroom in rebuilt Chatham courthouse

Posted September 7, 2010

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— A Chatham County task force told county commissioners Tuesday that a courtroom should be retained when the county rebuilds its landmark courthouse.

A March 25 fire gutted the building, which was built in 1881, and caused its iconic clock tower to collapse. Authorities determined the fire was accidentally started by workers involved in an exterior renovation and that the blaze quickly spread in the building's attic.

The Board of Commissioners appointed a 21-member task force to gather public input and determine how to use the courthouse when it is rebuilt. The group held a public meeting, and about 530 residents were surveyed, officials said.

In addition to a second-floor courtroom, the panel recommended continuing to house the Chatham Historical Association on the the first floor, along with museum space, a possible visitors' center, meeting space and art displays.

The courtroom should look as much as possible like the old courtroom, the task force said, but should feature updated lighting and sound systems and handicapped accessibility. The task force said it also should be available for public meetings, historical programs and cultural events.

The county needs to develop policies on public use of the courtroom and other spaces in the building, the group said.

“While we have a lot of information to review, we expect to take action on this fairly soon because we need to move forward with the rebuilding process," Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Sally Kost said in a statement.

On Sept. 13-14, the south half of the traffic circle around the courthouse, which sits at the intersection of U.S. Highway 64 and U.S. Highway 15/501, will be closed so crews can place a temporary roof on the building.

The Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing on Sept. 20 to consider the task force's recommendations.

The county this fall will break ground on a new Judicial Center, which will house all local courts once it opens.


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  • wildcat Sep 8, 2010

    The cost will most likely hurt the tax payers in the long run. The commissioners will not care either.

  • wildcat Sep 8, 2010

    It's gone people...let it go!!!!

    But they want to build it back. Its going to cost millions if not billions to rebuild back. Hope they see what the cost is going to be.

  • wildcat Sep 8, 2010

    Are they concerned about the no job situation in Chatham county? If not they really should be. Voting time will he here soon.

  • wildcat Sep 8, 2010

    So where is all this money coming from?

  • Bob3425 Sep 8, 2010

    "Board of Commissioners appointed a 21-member task force to gather public input and determine how to use the courthouse when it is rebuilt", My question is Why does it take a task force to determine "how to use the courthouse"? County must have a surplus of money there.

  • Griswold Sep 7, 2010

    Fortunately, the county had this new-fangled thing called INSURANCE, as did the company doing the renovation. That is what will pay for the reconstruction, not tax dollars.

  • GWALLY Sep 7, 2010

    A huge waste of tax money.....especially since a new Judicial Center will be opened soon housing completely new courtrooms..!! It's gone people...let it go!!!!