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March 19--  A Savannah design firm is proposing that Toombs County replace its courthouse with a justice center, build a government annex and expand its jail.

justiccenterToombs Commissioners were briefed at their March meeting on a nine-month study conducted by the firm of Hussey Gay Bell.  The firm considered seven concepts but is recommending one to reconfigure the current location in Lyons. 

It would add a pod with up to 60 more bed to the county jail and build the new courtroom complex adjacent to the jail to facilitate inmate access to court hearings. 

The government annex would be built on land currently occupied by the EMA and Ross Bowen buildings with the old courthouse being torn down and turned into parking and green space.

Toombs Commission Chairman David Sikes says, "For the rest of 2019, we'll work with Hussey Gay Bell for the actual costs as we prepare for our funding for this project.  If we have an opportunity to start this project, it would probably be in 2021.  The next step is to hire them to begin design of our courthouse, the jail expansion and government annex."

ericjohnsonPreliminary cost estimates come in at $39.5 million, according to Eric Johnson with the design company, "Both the jail and the courthouse have flexibility to grow so, as Toombs County grows, you can come back in ten years and add on more administrative space or more jail space.  Unfortunately, if we gave them everything they wanted looking forward 20 years, first of all we don't know what that need is, but it doubles the price tag."

Chairman Sikes says the Commission would ask the voters to approve continuation of a one percent special purpose local option sales tax to finance the long term debt the county would assume to build the project.

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