BuildingComm

Repairs to Trousdale County’s century-old courthouse will be needed before the Election Commission moves its offices into the building in 2022.

Trousdale County’s Building Committee discussed the need for renovations and/or repairs to the old courthouse during its Sept. 9 meeting.

The building will eventually house a history museum and the Election Commission office. The Election Commission will be moved into the courthouse by February 2022, per a previous directive from the County Commission.

County Mayor Stephen Chambers said one consultant had recommended repairing, rather than replacing, the windows and that the Tennessee Historic Commission likely would make a similar request.

“Something needs to be done. They’re going to rot out of the case and fall on the ground; we already have one that either fell out, got knocked out or shot out,” commissioner Dwight Jewell said of the windows.

John Oliver, who serves as the county’s historian, noted that the courthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and such designation limits exactly what can be done.

Ken Buckmaster asked if being on that registry was worth it.

“Patching this stuff together that will last two or three years, so we can remain on a historical landmark to what I see as no benefit,” he said. “I’d just as soon we do it right if we’re going to put people (in the building).”

Replacing the chiller and building tiles were also among recommendations presented to the committee.

In addition, the Election Commission had requested removing a window on the side of the building and replacing it with a door. But John Oliver noted that the election office had previously been in the courthouse and did not need a door then.

“The ramp out the back door will be adequate to do what they want to do, moving equipment in and out,” added Public Works Director Cliff Sallee.

Committee members voted to reject the request and leave the window in place.

Trousdale County’s Building Committee discussed the need for a new county jail during its Sept. 9 meeting.

Chambers presented the same Jail Needs Assessment that was previously presented to the Law Enforcement Committee. That report recommends that the county build a 105-bed facility, which would more the double the current jail’s official capacity of 44.

The sheriff has also requested space in any new facility for inmate programs such as job training and counseling, Chambers added. In Gibson County, such programs reduced the percentage of reoffenders from 80 to 8%, the mayor noted.

“This is the direction that Gov. Lee is pushing communities to go,” Chambers stated.

The county’s jail committee has also requested that Trousdale County consider building a comprehensive criminal justice facility that could house courts and a jail.

“The district attorney, public defender all ask that when we look at this we look at building a criminal justice center,” Chambers said.

The cost of a new jail won’t be known until an official design is presented, the mayor noted. Previous estimates have ranged as high as $20 million.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-450-5756 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

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