The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

August 27, 2013

DA, clerk will be elsewhere during courthouse renovation

Limestone County’s plan to move courthouse offices into the Better Living building on Jefferson Street in Athens while the courthouse is renovated will not include the offices of the circuit court clerk and district attorney.

District Attorney Brian Jones says there’s not enough room for them.

Originally, the county planned to allow the clerk’s and district attorney’s offices to remain in the courthouse during the renovation, but that plan has changed.

“We will have to leave here for health reasons,” Circuit Clerk Brad Curnutt said Monday. “There is no way for us or the public to stay here.”

As a result, Curnutt is looking for office space in which to move his offices. He said he has looked around the Courthouse Square and has asked County Commission Chairman Stanley Menefee to inquire about renting space at the county water and sewer department on Jefferson Street.

“We don’t have a definite spot yet — we are still looking,” Curnutt said.

Jones already has his space staked out. He will move temporarily into the building on Washington Street — across the street from the Clinton Street Annex — that will eventually house his pretrial diversion program.

Jail trustees have already pulled plaster off the walls to expose the old brick, Jones said. He hopes they will spray the ceilings Monday, put polyurethane on the brick to seal it and finishing interior walls by the end of the week.

Jones will use some of that space for his offices during the 18 months to two years it may take to renovate the courthouse. At the same time, he will also use the building for pretrial diversion or PTD. The program offers certain offenders an alternative to prosecution. Those who complete the program successfully will either not be charged or will have their charges dismissed. The goal of PTD is to prevent further criminal activity by the offender, allow prosecutors and judges to concentrate on other cases and create a way for offenders to pay restitution.

Neither Curnutt nor Jones has a move-out date yet.

Once the district and circuit courts move into the Better Living building at 503 S. Jefferson St., workers will begin renovating the second and third floors of the courthouse. The first floor has already been largely renovated.  Originally, the plan included the fourth floor, but that was scrapped due to accessibility issues and to avoid taking out a marble staircase in order to run an elevator to the fourth floor.

When the courthouse renovation is completed, the Better Living building will become the permanent home for Community Corrections, Pardons & Paroles and the county maintenance office, which are now in the Crutcher Shopping Center on South Jefferson.

The county spent $464,000 on the 12,000-square-foot Better Living building. The courthouse renovation is estimated to cost $3 to $3.5 million.

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