CLARKESVILLE - Officials gathered Friday afternoon to dedicate the new Habersham County Judicial Center.
Located on the former North Habersham School site on Llewellyn Street, near the Habersham County Board of Education Central Office, the facility soon will house all of the county's judicial functions, including clerk of court, magistrate court, probate court, state court, juvenile court, grand jury and superior court.
Habersham County Commission meetings also will be held in a multi-purpose room that also will serve as the jury assembly room.
At Friday's dedication, Commission Chairman Chad Henderson acknowledged the contributions of those who have played any role in the building's design and construction, noting that Habersham receives a new courthouse about every 57 years and that the new one has been discussed for about 15 years.
"This started around 1998, so it's been a long time in the coming," Henderson said. "We're really excited about it."
Speaking on behalf of the county judiciary, Mountain Judicial Circuit Superior Court Chief Judge Chan Caudell of Habersham County praised the facility.
"We're so fortunate to have this beautiful building to occupy," Caudell said.
Speaking specifically to Habersham County School Superintendent Matthew Cooper and members of the board of education as well as Tallulah Falls School President Larry Peevy, Caudell said, "These doors are always open to your students, to your faculty, to anyone involved in the educational process. I'd like to see us form a partnership so that we have classes coming in ... as the poem says, it is America's best example of how grassroots democracy works."
Guest speaker for the event was Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens, who talked about the symbolism of an American courthouse.
"Once anyone walks in this building - although our system of justice, as the chief judge said, is not perfect and never will be - this is the building that's supposed to signify the scales of justice and everyone's right to have that equal opportunity to be treated fairly," Olens said.
Henderson said the building is a combination of functionality and appearance.
"This building is very functional," Henderson said. "It's also aesthetically pleasing. It's not a monument to government, but it is a nice-looking building and it's going to be very efficient in the way that we're able to conduct our courts."
Henderson said the county built in additional unfinished space that can be utilized later at a lower cost than a new addition or new building.
"We hope that it will serve the county for a long time to come," Henderson said.
Following the brief ceremony, county residents were able to tour the building.