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College may provide space to displaced Hancock Co. government | Community Spirit

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College may provide space to displaced Hancock Co. government
College may provide space to displaced Hancock Co. government

Hancock County government may set up shop at the Oconee Fall Line Technical College.

The government was displaced when the county courthouse was destroyed in a fire early Monday.

College president Lloyd Horadan offered it to the county to use and the county would only have to pay for utilities.

Property deeds, birth and marriage certificates and many other vital records dating back to 1795 were destroyed when most of the Hancock County Courthouse burned down early Monday.

"I had 31 years of my political life in there," said Sistie Hudson, Hancock County chairwoman said. "It's our home - We'll bring it back. We will survive," she added.

Much of the county's financial records are not stored at the courthouse.

Hudson said the county had the courthouse insured for $5.5 million, but she doesn't think that will be enough.

Hancock County Commissioner Steven Hill was supposed to be in court Monday morning but, "There was nowhere to go," he said.

The historic Hancock County Courthouse in Sparta was completely gutted by fire early Monday morning.

As the building smoldered in the background, Hill called it "a heartbreak scene" and a "catastrophe."

Sparta Police Chief Ronnie Evans said they were notified of the fire at 3:05 a.m.

When fire crews arrived, the building was engulfed in flames.

Hill called it "a complete loss."

The cause of the blaze is unknown. Crews are still on the scene.

Fire Chief Keith Webster says they've blocked off the building and they're waiting on a structural engineer to arrive before letting any crews inside to investigate as they are concerned about the building collapsing.

County Commissioner Teresa Kell says a major concern right now is getting to the vaults inside that houses all of the county documents. A board of elections member told 13WMAZ that none of their documents or voting machines were in those vaults and are likely destroyed.

He said they will have to put together a plan to get ready for the November election. The commission is trying to schedule a meeting for later today to discuss how they will continue county business.

Several people came out and watched the fire as it burned into the early morning. The historic courthouse has been a main focal point of the county since it was built in the late 1800s. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Sites. Renovations on the clock tower and roof had actually just gotten started last week.

Evans said he's unsure if the renovations have anything to do with the fire.

The courthouse was completed in 1883, and last year, a historic preservation group, the Georgia Trust, put it on their "Places in Peril" list.

They wrote: "The 1883 Hancock County Courthouse was the third courthouse to be built on its site since the town of Sparta was founded in 1795. The magnificent Second Empire style building was designed by the prominent Atlanta architectural firm of Parkins and Bruce. The courthouse anchors the essential center of historic Sparta and has been the site of numerous historic trials and events."




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