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Courthouse celebration a century in the making

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By Cheri Harris

The bash that brought elected leaders from the local and state level this past Friday was a century in the making — the centennial celebration for the Gadsden County Court House.

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Those gathered on the courthouse grounds honored the edifice with speeches, songs, prayers and applause.

Gadsden County Commission Chairman Eric Hinson read the official proclamation marking the occasion. This document traced the history of the county court, from its beginnings as a log cabin complex constructed for $50 to the present structure, which has recently undergone some renovations.

Gadsden County Clerk of Courts Nicholas Thomas told the audience that only a handful of courthouses in Florida still serve their original purpose. Gadsden County’s courthouse shares this distinction with the courthouses in Madison, Suwannee, Jefferson, Washington, Nassau and Lafayette counties.

“We’re in good company,” Thomas said.

Circuit Judge James O. Shelfer told the audience that, to him, “the courthouse is a temple” and people seek the courtroom to find truth and justice.

“When people leave,” he said, “they feel like they have been heard.”

He described the courthouse as a “grand old lady.”

“We can be proud of this grand old lady here on her 100th birthday,” he said.

County Judge Kathy Garner described the courthouse as the focal point of Gadsden County’s diverse heritage and culture.

She honored county commissioners for approving needed renovations.

“I celebrate you today for your commitment to Gadsden County,” she said. “Without hesitation, without delay they unanimously approved and ensured that this courtroom was renovated and it’s beautiful.”

The program also included sealing a 50-year time capsule as part of Viva Florida 500 activities, cake and punch inside the courthouse, a presentation by Joe Munroe about the courthouse’s history and a group photo of all leaders attending the event to commemorate the historic occasion.

Times Executive Editor Cheri Harris can be reached at 850-627-7649 or editor@gadcotimes.com.