A color guard from Fort Gordon posts the flags at the
beginning of the ceremony at the new Justice Center in Evans.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
When he gets back to Washington, D.C., U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy will have a glowing report of his visit to Columbia County.
"This courthouse is simply magnificent. Like the law, it has traditional components," he said. "And like the law it is ready to face the future."
On Wednesday - under a white tent on the front lawn - Kennedy dedicated the Columbia County Justice Center as a building dedicated to the inalienable rights of people.
"It is for a purpose as sacred, as noble and as ambitious as any civilization can undertake - and that's that free people can govern themselves," he said.
The dedication capped more than four years of work by local officials to establish a judicial center in Evans. The building actually opened in mid-July and houses probate court, superior court, clerk of court, juvenile court, magistrate court, district attorney and regional court administrator offices.
Columbia County officials and Kennedy move to the speaker's platform for the dedication.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
"This generation will have today's ceremony in its memory forever," Superior Court Judge Albert M. Pickett said.
"Your goal should be as pure and clean as the building is today that ultimately when you leave, it will be better for the next generation," he said Wednesday afternoon during the building's dedication ceremony.
Under the banner: "Pursuing new horizons while retaining time-honored traditions," various county and judicial officials commented on the building.
"It is a proud day for me," Probate Court Judge Pat Hardaway said. "Nobody could be more proud of this courthouse than me."
Wednesday's ceremony was also an opportunity to reflect on the past - Columbia County is home to Georgia's oldest operating courthouse, the 156-year-old building in Appling. Superior Court Judge Jim Blanchard remembers when court days in Appling were a social event, featuring barbecue lunches in a time before there was a television in every home for entertainment.
"You could hear the lawyers presenting their cases on the street below," he said.
The Rev. Glen Etheridge, the pastor of Wesley United Methodist Church, reminded the audience that the Judicial Center serves a simple, but important, purpose.
"It is more than a courthouse, more than a place where court convenes," he said. "It is a place where justice is served."
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