Story by Sheryl Beadles, Photos by Drew Staudenmaier, Staff Reporters A groundbreaking ceremony was held Tuesday, May 26 for the new Macon County Courthouse and Jail Project. The ceremony opened with a welcome by County Commissioner Alan Wyatt. This was followed by an invocation led by Eugene Stueve and the Pledge of Allegiance led by Judge Philip Prewitt. The three county commissioners each took a turn to discuss the courthouse and jail project. Wyatt said the project began several years ago.
It started with an idea, progressed to a design and then was presented to voters. “Hopefully, we’ll live up to the confidence of the voters,” Wyatt said. County elected officials and members of the design, construction and finance teams donned hard hats, picked up shovels and broke ground for the project. Drew Belt, District 1 Commissioner, told those in attendance that things started way before people saw the groundbreaking. Belt, toured the Macon County Jail in 2001. He saw it had structural problems and the Commission decided at that time to monitor the cracks in the walls to see how much they moved over time.
The Commissioners also toured jails in other counties. In 2010, they hired Jennifer Wilson to inspect the courthouse and jail for recommendations on future repairs. A grand jury was formed in 2012 and part of their responsibility was to tour the jail.
They recommended for it to be condemned. The Commissioners knew at this point the jail and courthouse needed to be fixed sooner than they first planned.
They formed a committee to investigate further. Approximately 75 people were in attendance for the groundbreaking ceremony for the new courthouse and jail. Belt said they worked very hard to find ways to fund a new courthouse. They wanted people to be informed as much as possible and to get feedback. Without a committee, Belt thinks the project would be farther behind.
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Jon Dwiggins, District 2 Commissioner, thanked the crowd of approximately 75 for coming out for the groundbreaking. He named off a list of Macon County officials who were in attendance.
Others in attendance who spoke included the design, construction and financing team: nForm Architecture, ShiveHattery, JE Dunn Construction and LJ Hart. The representative from ShiveHattery informed the crowd that he believes the new courthouse and jail will provide safety and security for courthouse workers and members of the community. It will help for the jail to be connected to the courthouse so prisoners will be transferred inside the building instead of outside. He also said they were excited to be part of the project. Designs of the new courthouse and jail were on display at the groundbreaking for people to see what the future building will look like. A member of JE Dunn Construction told the crowd that the new courthouse and jail is going to be around for a long time. He asked everyone to be patient in the next several months.