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County wants feds out of building soon
Officials hope to get elections board into the extension service building
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Effingham County will send two federal agencies packing from their current no-rent space from the county.

Commissioners were set to rescind their lease agreement with the Farm Service Agency for the under-construction county extension building — before the federal government sent the county informing them the deal was off.

But the space the FSA and the National Resource Conservation Service was going to take up at the county extension building could have another occupant. The Effingham Board of Elections has to vacate its current digs by the end of the year.

“It will increase the space the board of elections has now,” county project manager Adam Kobek said. “It will be a sizable increase for them.”

Moving into the extension building would give the elections office room for the voting machines and access to the community room, giving them space to test the machines.

Interior construction at the extension building should be finished by September, and the county extension office will move in once it’s done. And when the extension office moves out, county commissioners want the federal agencies to follow suit.

The county plans to renovate that building, the Treutlen Building, and wants to be able to start once the extension service moves into its new home in the 6,000 square foot building under way on Highway 119.

“Once we move the extension service, we need to vacate the entire building,” County Administrator David Crawley said. “That way, we can go in and redo the building.”

There are five people among the two federal agencies currently housed by the county, and Kobek said apparently they have received another offer for space.

Effingham County commissioners also have put together an ad hoc committee that will review the best options for the future of the old Effingham County Courthouse.

Commissioners Hubert Sapp and Reggie Loper will be on a committee that will include Butch Keiffer, Tommy Long, Van Findley and Ramona Bartos. A seventh member will be determined later. The other four were all selections by individual commissioners. Commissioner Jeff Utley was accompanying his wife to a Brunswick hospital Tuesday and his pick was not available.

The committee is expected to have its recommendations on an architect for courthouse renovation ready by Dec. 1 for the commissioners.

The commissioners want to give the building new life — and perhaps move some county offices — to the old courthouse.

“There are a lot of issues going into an old building and getting it to met the needs of today,” Sapp said.

The architect may have to decide what to do with the problematic addition to the courthouse.

“There’s a big decision if the addition stays or goes,” Crawley said.

That could have an impact on just how many people are shifted to the courthouse after it is renovated.

“If the architect decides the addition needs to go, then you have 15 or so people who may have to stay where they are,” Kobek said.