Historic courthouse could see new future

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By: Emma Wheeler | WCTV Eyewitness News
February 7, 2019

LOWNDES COUNTY, Ga. (WCTV) -- Officials in Lowndes County are looking to bring a local landmark back to life.

On Thursday, the Lowndes County Board of Commissioners held its Annual Planning Meeting. On the agenda was SPLOST VIII.

Special-Purpose Local-Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) is an added penny sales tax that is used to fund local projects that benefit the community, from infrastructure and equipment to addressing public safety needs.

The county board is looking to add SPLOST VIII to the November ballot. If approved, one of the projects that could be included is renovations to the historic courthouse.

In November 2013, SPLOST VII was approved, which allocated $2 million for renovations. County officials said that $2 million is not enough to complete the project. If approved, SPLOST VIII would help move forward the rest of the renovations.

"That needs to be done, that's extremely important. Right now, we have a vacant building that's just sitting downtown," said Bill Slaughter, Chairman of the Lowndes County Board of Commissioners. "As citizens, we're able to use the grounds around the historical courthouse, but we have a plan that we want to renovate it so that citizens in our community will be able to utilize not only the grounds, but the building itself."

One of the proposed uses for the building is to turn it into a regional welcome center, open to the community and visitors to learn more about the history of Valdosta and Lowndes County.

It's just one of the potential projects included in SPLOST VIII. County officials are still finalizing the list, which they hope to have ready to bring forward for board approval in May.

If SPLOST VIII is approved, it would run for five or six years, depending on an agreement with the City of Valdosta.

Next month, the county plans to look into hiring an architect, who would assess what's needed to restore the historical building. Then, officials will be able to figure out how much the project will cost.

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