Oconee County commissioners took two steps last night toward the possible demolition of the old and unused jail, which is at the rear of the Courthouse in Watkinsville.
At its agenda-setting meeting, the commissioners agreed to take up the future of the jail at its meeting next Tuesday night, with only Commissioner William “Bubber” Wilkes indicating opposition to the demolition plans.
That expansion would add three additional floors of space to the Courthouse and help address space needs in the county until the commissioners can agree on a long-range plan for accommodating both court and administrative space demands of the county.
The commissioners have been discussing openly the demolition of the old jail since early last month, when Daniell announced the possibility at a Town Hall meeting at Oconee Veterans Park.
So far, no one has come forward at any Commission meeting to voice opposition to the demolition plans.
The discussion items to be on the agenda next week are a request for proposals for demolition of the structure and a change order for an exiting contract to cover the engineering and related work on the Courthouse expansion.
Daniell said there would be an effort to save any artifacts from the old jail that are of historical value.
Daniell also said the county would consider placing a historical marker at the site to acknowledge the murder in the summer of 1905 of eight jail inmates by an angry mob.
The inmates were tied to fence posts and shot, according to press reports from that time that former BOC Chair Wendell Dawson has archived. The first report said that nine were killed, but later reports said one survived the shooting.
In other action in the short meeting last night, the Board of Commissioners hired C.J. Worden as director of the county’s Emergency Management Agency.
Worden is a field coordinator with the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Secuirty Agency. He also is on the Hiawassee Police Department as a part-time employee and works with the Towns County Sheriff’s Office on a part-time basis.
Worden will start work in Oconee County on Friday. The position has been vacant for about a year.
The Commission also agreed to spend $21,187 for interior and exterior renovation of historic Eagle Tavern, across the street from the Courthouse.
The discussion of the demolition of the jail begins at 11:38 in the video below, which is of the entire 17-minute session.
Daniell indicated there would be opportunity for citizen input on the proposed demolition of the jail at next week’s meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. at the Courthouse in Watkinsville.
I did attend the meeting last night but arrived too late to set up my camera.
Sarah Bell made the video recording below.