published Friday, October 15th, 2010

Days numbered for old Dade courthouse


by Andy Johns
  • photo
    Staff Photo by Tim Barber/Chattanooga Times Free Press Judge Bo Wood, left, talks about the positioning of courtroom furniture with Dade County Executive Ted Rumley inside one of two new courtrooms in downtown Trenton, Ga. The old courthouse on the square in Trenton may become a museum, Rumley said.

TRENTON, Ga. — The walls of the 84-year-old Dade County Courthouse will echo the rap of a gavel only a few more times.

In November the court will move from the old building on the square, which looks as if it could double for the set of the 1962 film “To Kill A Mockingbird,” to a spacious, new building a few blocks away that is wired to the gills.

While Dade County officials and courthouse staff are ready for the move, they are getting a little sentimental during the old justice building’s waning weeks.

“This room right here, if it could talk it would just put cold chills all over you,” said County Executive Ted Rumley, patting the wooden dais front and center in the old courtroom.

Superior Court Clerk Kathy Page said there are many improvements in the new building, including deed vaults 10 times the size of the current ones, but there are a few things she will miss.

“I think I’m going to take my sign,” she said of the antique painted “Court Clerk” placard fastened to her office door.

This week, crews installed the new building’s computer and video wiring and worked on the details of the judge’s dais and areas for lawyers, witnesses and jurors.

Judge Jon B. Moon stopped by to oversee some of the arrangements.

“You’re going to create a lot of operating room,” the judge told the crews as he slid a piece of cardboard that represented placement of a table. “Everybody wants their space.”

That space is something that the old courthouse lacks, according to Page, who said her office is “definitely out of space.”

“It’s something we’ve needed for a long time,” Rumley said.

The new courthouse will be equipped with touch-screen evidence viewers for the judge, jurors and attorneys, and each office will have panic alarms and video surveillance.

Rumley said he hoped the old courtroom could be turned into a museum and the downstairs offices rented out to state agencies or law firms.

about Andy Johns...

Andy began working at the Times Free Press in July 2008 as a general assignment reporter before focusing on Northwest Georgia and Georgia politics in May of 2009. Before coming to the Times Free Press, Andy worked for the Anniston Star, the Rome News Tribune and the Campus Carrier at Berry College, where he graduated with a communications degree in 2006. He is pursuing a master’s degree in business administration at the University of Tennessee ...

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