The grand jury is a secretive process but it does have legal obligations to report things not criminal.
“By state statute, grand juries are to tour buildings and other facilities of the county,” Fifth Judicial Circuit District Attorney Jeremy Duerr said. “They even look at the county jail. In Tallapoosa County, grand juries in Alexander City look at and report on the Tallapoosa County Courthouse Annex. In Dadeville, they look at the courthouse and the county jail. In both cases, the grand juries report the conditions they find.”
In Tallapoosa County four grand juries convene each year, two in Alexander City and two in Dadeville, to see if evidence warrants true bills of indictment. One grand jury in Alexander City published its report earlier this month returning 240 true bills meaning 240 cases will be entering the courts under the Fifth Judicial Circuit in Alexander City but it also reported its findings.
While the report noted the grand jury commended the work of law enforcement like the Alexander City Police Department, New Site Police Department, Tallapoosa County Sheriff’s Department and the Tallapoosa County Narcotics Task Force, it found conditions at the annex gratuitous.
“Upon our inspection of the courthouse annex, we noted that the overall appearance and operation of the facility was inadequate due to an apparent lack of cleanliness and maintenance,” the report reads. “... We observed leaks and evidence of leaks throughout the building especially in the clerk’s office and the district attorney’s office.”
The report especially takes note of the observation of black mold or mildew and water-damaged walls in two of the district attorney’s offices. The grand jury noted lights out and lights of different colors, and issues with the air conditioning systems in the grand jury room. It also noted cleanliness but Duerr said janitorial issues had been addressed through personnel.
Tallapoosa County administrator Blake Beck said the grand jury report was the first knowledge he had of the leaks at the annex.
“We weren’t really aware of the issues,” Beck said. “They are being addressed. They will have to wait for the rain to stop to work on the roof leaks.”
Beck said issues such as leaks should be reported to building and maintenance staff which in turn should notify him if staff can’t find a reasonable remedy. With only two buildings and the jail, having a staff beyond custodial employees is difficult.
Beck said he is rarely in the Alexander City courthouse annex, but will make sure a system is put in place to report issues.
“We will come up with something to get issues reported,” Beck said. “I’m able to keep up with things at the courthouse in Dadeville as I am here every day.”