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New government center open for business
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Georgia Governor Nathan Deal cut the bright gold ribbon yesterday opening the new Dawson County Government Center. He addressed a standing room only crowd of some 250 citizens, elected officials and other dignitaries who gathered to celebrate the completion of the four-story, 111,000 square foot building.

A building of this type shows the dignity of a progressive community and one that will continue to prosper, and I think you will, Gov. Deal said.

This building reflects the pride and optimism the people of Dawson County have in their history and their future, said House Speaker David Ralston.

The new building brings all government and judicial services under one roof.

The massive structure, capped with a bronze statue of Lady Justice atop an imposing dome, features the columned, brick-and-stone look of the old Craftsman style courthouses. While the exterior has been visible for quite some time, Tuesdays Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting offered the first opportunity for most citizens and area dignitaries to see the buildings impressive interior.

The Government Center entrance features a grand two-story foyer, overlooked by a circular, second floor balcony. Terrazzo flooring and rich, dark cherry stained trim, stair railings and other woodwork throughout the buildings four floors create a sense of stateliness. Stylish furnishings and dcor were chosen with input from committees.

But looks arent everything. The real beauty of the new Government Center lies in its expanse, functionality and security, qualities not taken for granted by county employees, many of whose offices have been housed in leased spaces scattered throughout the downtown Dawsonville area for quite some time.

With limited office space and only one courtroom, there was little room to operate (in the old building), much less space to grow with the county, said Bob Ivey, director of special projects for Dawson County.

The new building brings all government and judicial services under one roof. The building will be at only 75 percent capacity at move-in, so the county can grow into it as the population and services continue to expand, according to Dawson County government and community affairs director.

Among the highlights of the buildings layout, all administrative offices are housed on the expansive first floor. That includes high traffic public areas like the tax commissioners office, the tax assessors office and records room, the Superior Court clerks office and the public law library. The second floor accommodates a spacious assembly room, where the Dawson County Board of Commissioners will hold its meetings.

The third and fourth floors are home to four courtroomsthree for Superior Court proceedings and one shared by the Magistrate and Probate Courtsas well as jury deliberation rooms and secured judges chambers.

Since the building houses the court systems, maximum security is critical. In addition to metal detectors and scanners, there are 85 dedicated cameras operated by a central control center and a dedicated Sheriffs Office court security system. Judges bench shields are bullet-resistant, and elaborate facilities and processes segregate the incarcerated from the general population and the judges from everyone.

The Government Center replaces a courthouse built in 1977, which will be demolished as the final phase of the project.

This is the citizens building, said Commission Chairman Mike Berg. Its a monument and a testament to the folks who supported it and worked on it. More than 87 percent of voters approved Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) funding for the project in 2007.

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Administration offices begin moving into the new building today, and the move should be complete by early February. There will be no office closures during the move. Citizens may visit www.dawsoncounty.gov or call 706-344-3500 for specific information.

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