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‘Topping out’ ceremony marks milestone for new courthouse, jail
A group of Forsyth County sitting judges look at the progress made on the new courthouse during a 'topping out' ceremony Tuesday in downtown Cumming. - photo by Jim Dean

CUMMING — A crowd of community leaders, construction workers and elected officials gathered Tuesday morning to officially celebrate the “topping out” of the new Forsyth County courthouse and jail facilities.

The structures, along with two large parking decks, are being built in downtown Cumming to replace smaller, decades-old facilities.

Funded by 1-cent sales tax revenue, the $100 million facilities are scheduled to open by mid-2015.

Representatives of Turner-Winter Construction said Tuesday the “topping out” ceremony dates back centuries to celebrate reaching the highest level of a structure.

“What a glorious event to see five stories in the city of Cumming,” said Pete Amos, chairman of the Forsyth County commission.

Amos and Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt, who also spoke during the ceremony, both thanked everyone who had made the projects possible, including government employees and elected officials.

But they both mostly praised the construction crews, who have worked on the projects since ground was broken about nine months ago, and county voters, who approved the sales tax funding for the projects in November 2011.

“We went through three different referendums that were defeated before we finally realized that the voters didn’t want to pay for these projects through property tax,” Gravitt said. “We finally realized the voters wanted to pay for this through sales tax.”

Amos and Gravitt said they couldn’t wait until December when construction is scheduled to be complete.  

“What a joyous day that will be for Cumming and Forsyth County,” Gravitt said.

Added Amos: “These two projects will serve our community well into the future.”

Also during the event, a ceremonial bucket was lifted from the ground, through the air to the roof of the new five-story courthouse, and representatives of Turner-Winter Construction presented donations to three charitable organizations.

Shannon Hines, with Turner-Winter, said collecting a charitable donation on projects of this nature is a tradition for the company.

Among the gifts were: $7,600 for United Way of Forsyth; $7,600 for the Forsyth County Community Connection; and $9,000 for No Longer Bound.

Hines also encouraged the construction crews to continue to “stay focused on quality work.”

“These are facilities that will stand for generations,” he said.