"Courting" the Vote

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Susan Hehn is leaving the polls hopeful. She voted "yes" for the penny sales tax that will raise $21 million for Thomas County's new courthouse.

Susan said, "I just firmly believe it's time for the courthouse to grow."

Hehn says she knows firsthand how vital the passage of this referendum is.

"My husband and I both served on jury duty in times past. The facility is just very cramped and not the type of place you want to spend hours deliberating on a court case."

The lack of space is just one known concern at the old courthouse. Another very timely one is the lack of security. Courthouse officials say the deadly incident at the Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta can happen here.

David Hutchings, Clerk of Superior and State Courts, said, "There's no way to secure this building. There are like five entrances and we have no holding cell for the prisoners. It's really unsafe for the public."

Amenities of the courthouse include state-of-the-art security, a main public entrance, a private entrance for prisoners and holding cells accessible to the courtroom.

Susan also added, "I don't know why people would vote ‘no.’ It's just that maybe they would want their taxes raised."

But Hehn says the extra penny sales tax is a fair way to finance a much-needed improvement in the local court system. There was a low voter turnout Tuesday. Only 20 to 30 percent was expected.