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Courthouse design submitted

POSTED: February 11, 2009 4:00 a.m.

There hasn’t been a vote or even a preliminary design submitted, but  the Dawson County Board of Commissioners is sure about two things.


The new courthouse must face Shoal Creek Road and it must fit the  town’s current architectural standings.


Rosser International, the firm chosen to design the county’s 1-cent tax approved courthouse adjacent to the current courthouse, presented three sketches to the board Jan. 29. Design consultants asked the board to settle two issues — the aesthetic aspiration for the building and where the front entrance of the building should be.


“I would agree that it would work better for all for the entrance on Shoal Creek,” said District 2 Commissioner James Swafford. “Because then if you come down from the old courthouse, or if you’re coming down to the parking lot on that side... as you drive by you have a better look. I would not vote on putting it facing the parking lot, because I don’t like the idea of turning it’s back on the town.”


The three sketches varied in composition with one taking a mill town tower facade, one a Romanesque white exterior and one in classic red brick, much like the town’s current and historic courthouses.


“Option 2 looks like a factory in downtown Atlanta, a cotton mill,” said Commission Chair Mike Berg, who added Dawson County is not a factory town.


The board weighed the three scenarios, which also introduced various parking options for visitors to the courthouse. Distance to parking areas also played a role in the discussions.


District 1 Commissioner Gary Pichon said he would be more in favor of a midway entrance between the historic courthouse and the current parking lot past the Dollar General, which was condemned last year to make room for the courthouse.


“The images you see are a starting point,” said design consultant Doug Shaw. “This is a work in progress.”


Hearing the commissioners’ concerns, Rosser submitted new sketches last week, which highlighted many of the board’s ideas, including rounded stairs at the entrance along Shoal Creek Road.


District 3 Commissioner Mike Connor said he believes the sketches are headed in the right direction.


County Manager Kevin Tanner said Rosser will continue to bring design elements to the board over the next few months in preparation for bidding out the project by late summer.


“Then we’ll hit the market at the right time and hopefully come in with some good numbers,” he said.


The board last October approved a site plan option for the courthouse at $29.6 million.


The chosen option calls for the construction of a new courthouse adjacent to the current courthouse, which would be demolished within 24 months in order for the Turner family, who own the vacant gravel lot south of the current courthouse, to move forward with a previously approved business/office park.


The Turners have put their project on hold in order to reach a compromise with the county, which initially had planned to condemn the Turner’s land at the intersection of Hwy. 53 and Shoal Creek Road for the new courthouse.


The chosen courthouse option also includes a green space area intended  to be utilized as a park.


E-mail Michele Hester at


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