Ten months after county abandoned Administrative Building 2, it is still standing

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Whitfield County officials say plans still call for the county Public Works Department to tear down Administrative Building 2, which has stood empty for 10 months. But two of the five county commissioners say they would like to explore selling the building.

DALTON, Ga. — It has been 10 months since the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners abandoned Administrative Building 2 at 214 W. King St., across from the Whitfield County Courthouse, because it does not meet the state fire code.

Commissioners moved their meetings to the Wells Fargo Bank building, and the agencies that were in Administrative Building 2 were moved to other county buildings. Commissioners said at the time they planned to tear down the building, after the city fire marshal said they would have to vacate the building because it did not meet the state fire code. But the building has not yet been demolished.

"Because of the horrible weather during last fall and continuing into the winter, it has caused an unusual amount of damage to roads, streets and bridges, causing our resources to be spread to more pressing and greater priority repairs," said County Administrator Mark Gibson.

Gibson said plans still call for the county Public Works Department to tear down the building.

Commissioners voted at their June 2019 meeting 3-2 to reject a bid from Complete Demolition Services of Newnan to tear down the building. Commissioners said at the time they wanted to tear down the building, but the majority said they believed the county's Public Works Department could do the job more economically. Commissioners Harold Brooker, Greg Jones and Barry Robbins voted to reject the bid.

On Monday, two commissioners said they would like to see the county use the delay in tearing down the building to explore other options.

"We aren't in a big hurry to tear it down," said Jones. "It's not costing us anything sitting there. I wouldn't mind putting it up (for bids) and seeing if there's any interest. We wouldn't have to sell it. But we might see if anyone is interested in buying it."

Robbins said last year he'd like to explore other options.

"But I also said if we were going to tear it down, that I agreed that Public Works should tear it down," he said.

Brooker said he still believes the county should tear the building down and keep the land.

"Property next to the courthouse is valuable," he said. "We shouldn't sell that. We may need it one day."

Commissioner Roger Crossen agreed. And Crossen, who along with Chairman Lynn Laughter, voted last year to accept the bid from Complete Demolition Services to tear down the building, said he still has concerns about Public Works doing the job.

"This is nothing against our Public Works Department, but that company specialized in demolition," he said. "I'd much rather have someone like that accept the liability for that work and not the county."

Administrative Building 2, at the corner of King Street and Selvidge Street, opened in 1967 as a church. The Dalton Fire Department sent the county a three-page letter in 2018 detailing the ways the building failed to meet the fire code, including insufficient emergency lighting, use of extension cords because of insufficient electrical wiring and no central fire alarm system.

In March 2019, the Dalton Fire Department sent county officials a letter telling them the county would have to vacate the building by April 1. The sides later reached an agreement that the county could continue to use the building while commissioners decided what to do with it as long as they had a certified firefighter in the building performing "fire watch" patrol whenever there were people in the building.

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