Walker County, Ga., razed the building at 2012 MacFarland Ave. where many residents of north Walker County get their vehicle tags so it can be replaced with a doublewide trailer that served as a bank in Alabama.
"We're excited," county Deputy Tax Commissioner Karen Walker said.
She has not-so-fond memories of the old-house-turned-office, including the cramped space where customers lined up, an exterior door that wouldn't close because the building had settled so much, and the flood-prone cellar filling with 6 to 8 feet of water during heavy rains -- even with a sump pump running.
Walker held her thumb and forefinger apart to show how the floor once buckled "that much" causing customers to jump back against the wall in fear the floor might collapse.
County workers knocked the old building down Monday, had its rubble hauled off to the landfill Tuesday and poured a concrete pad as foundation for the former Alabama bank building that's equipped with such features as a night deposit box and a drive-through window.
Walker County got the roughly 5-year-old trailer from "the same people that do portables for the school systems," County Coordinator David Ashburn said.
Building "a bargain"
He said the new building is a bargain compared to the $250,000 it would cost to build a new office.
"The county will probably have about $80,000 in it," Ashburn said, including such finishing touches as installation of a handicapped-accessible ramp. Funding comes from the special purpose local option sales tax, a levy of 1 cent per $1 of sales approved by voters.
The tag office will reopen soon, he said.
"The office will be closed three weeks," Ashburn said. "That's unheard of, to be that quick."
The tag office at 2012 MacFarland Ave. gets about twice as many customers as the main office in LaFayette, Ga., Walker said, including from car dealerships and title loan operations in the north end of the county.
She predicts customers and staff will appreciate the new building's drive-through, the night deposit box, a better heating and cooling system, and the handicapped-accessible ramp with a gentler slope than the one at the old office.
"They're not going to be worried about the floor falling in," Walker said. "They're going to have more room. They're not going to feel like they're standing on top of one another. It's going to be a better building."
Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at email@example.com or 423-757-6651.
Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.