Hancock County Courthouse fire ruled ‘undetermined’
Once standing as a piece of pride in the city, the old county courthouse sits smoldering with a shell of an exterior still in tact.
The inside….a total loss.
“We have an engineer coming in to assess the stability of the building. We don’t want anybody really getting close to it or going inside,” Fire Chief Keith Webster said.
He and crew spent hours cooling hot spots throughout the damaged building.
The impact of the blaze is felt most by the people who worked inside, like Tomeka McClendon.
She’s a volunteer, who was looking forward to getting a head start on the November elections.
“I just set up for registration, early voting. I was so happy and proud to set up the early voting sings out here in the front of the courthouse, and now that’s gone,” she said.
Also a visibly emotional, Sistie Hudson, the chairwoman for the Hancock County Board of Commissioners.
She’s worked in the building for 32 years.
“It was the grandest courthouse in Georgia,” Hudson said. “This was my pride and joy.”
Fire crews doused what was left of the countless files and documents that were burned and destroyed in the fire. Officials say the old files are gone, but the newer ones are stored off-site.
Hudson says renovations were underway to the courthouse, that was built back in the 1800’s. The county set aside $150,00 to begin the project.
Dozens of residents looked on of what was left of the “Hidden Jewel of Hancock County.”
They say even though a piece of tehm is gone, they’re still optimistic about the future.
“We’re going to rebuild. It’ll be the fourth courthouse at this spot, and we will come back,” Hudson said.
No one was injured in the fire.
Officials say temporary offices will be available for courthouse personnel at Oconee Fall Line Technical College.