Whitfield commissioners' meetings will move to courthouse next year after renovations are complete

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Oct. 16—The Whitfield County Board of Commissioners will have a permanent home for its meetings when the renovation of the courthouse is complete next year, said Chairman Jevin Jensen.

"That is our plan," he said. "We should move in there at the end of February or first of March. It will be where (Tax Commissioner) Danny Sane's property tax people used to be. We are refurbishing that. It will seat about 60. We also have an overflow area across the hall where we can set up a screen."

The meetings will continue to be live-streamed on the county's Facebook page, and viewers can submit questions.

The tax commissioner's office moved to a 5,500-square-foot facility at 1013 Riverburch Parkway, just off the north bypass about a mile from Cleveland Highway, early this year.

Commissioners' meetings have moved several times since they closed Administrative Building 2, at the corner of King Street and Selvidge Street, in July 2019. They had met in that building for more than a decade. Commissioners closed and later demolished the building after the Dalton fire marshal said they would have to vacate the building because it did not meet the state fire code.

They first moved into the fifth-floor meeting room of the Wells Fargo Bank building, where the county is leasing space for its administrative offices. But that room only seats a couple of dozen people, and when commissioners imposed social distancing because of COVID-19 there wasn't enough space in the room for commissioners, staff and the public.

Since the start of this year, commissioners have met primarily at the Wink Theatre, leased from Rock Bridge Community Church.

"I love the Wink," said Jensen. "It's a great facility, and I appreciate Rock Bridge letting us use it. But we need a place of our own to meet."

Jensen said one consideration is security. The courthouse entrance already has metal detectors. The sheriff's deputies who provide security for commission meetings have to bring metal detectors to the Wink each month.

"We'll probably rope off the stairway and station one of the deputies to be able to make sure no one goes up the stairs or to one of the offices in the courthouse," Jensen said.

The interior of the 1961 portion of the courthouse was gutted and is being completely rebuilt to address mold and other issues. The $6 million project is funded by the 2020 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST).

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