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Going to the Columbus Government Center? Don’t miss the entrance in The Tower

Looking Back: Before Columbus Government Center, domed courthouse graced the property

The Muscogee County Courthouse, built in 1896 for just under $63,500, once stood where the Government Center now stands. Construction of the new government center started in 1972. For a brief period both stood before demolition of the older building.
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The Muscogee County Courthouse, built in 1896 for just under $63,500, once stood where the Government Center now stands. Construction of the new government center started in 1972. For a brief period both stood before demolition of the older building.

Should you be summoned to The Tower, as I call the Columbus Government Center, you should be informed that the public entrance now is back to where it was before The Tower flooded from a busted pipe on the top floor.

I call the Government Center “The Tower” because it towers over downtown, and because it reminds me of the 1991 Jeremy Irons film “Kafka,” in which a shadowy government summons characters to “The Castle.”

Going to the Government Center can be Kafkaesque, like on Friday when I went to what had been the public entrance at the east wing on Second Avenue. I walked to the automatically opening doors and almost crashed like a bird into a sky-reflecting window when they did not open automatically.

That’s when I noticed the lights were off inside, and looking around, realized Second Avenue suddenly had ample on-street parking, too.

I walked away thinking maybe the government was closed, possibly for a holiday. I checked the date in 1865 to be sure all Confederate armies had surrendered and all Last Battles had been fought, lest we invented another regional Memorial Day.

Then I saw a sign directing people to the Government Center’s new public entrance, which is the old public entrance at the base of The Tower’s south side.

Keep that in mind, should you be summoned there for jury duty – and be sure to show up, or you will be thrown in jail, according to the robotic voice that left a threatening message Friday on my cellphone, demanding I call back and pay up for missing jury duty, or suffer the consequences.

“Hope to hear from you soon before the charges are pressed against you,” it said.

People get in big trouble for missing jury duty, you know – like I’m all the time waiting on a murder hearing in Recorder’s Court when jail inmates by the dozen are hauled in to explain why they missed jury duty, and why they’re now eager to serve on a jury to acquit all the suspects who threatened them while they were in jail.

I wanted to call the jury-scam number back, provide fake credit card information and find out how much to pay government enforcers not to browbeat and jail me. (“We had a MISTRIAL because we didn’t have enough alternate jurors! And it’s ALL YOUR FAULT! … By the way, the suspect wants to thank you when you get to jail.”)

I always respond to jury summons, because if I can get on a jury, then I don’t have to go to work … covering a trial, in a courtroom, in The Tower.

Maybe jury duty is not much of an advantage now, considering jurors get sequestered in a room with other jurors. If you’re in the audience when the judge takes something up outside the jury’s presence, you can make a break for the elevator, and go to Chester’s Barbeque in the ground floor cafeteria for a chipped sandwich.

You need to know where to find sustenance in The Tower because you’re not allowed to bring food or drink past the security checkpoint. It’s like going through airport security: You don’t have to take your shoes off, but you do have to walk through a metal detector and give up your keys and coins and phone.

I just keep all that stuff in a backpack the deputies run through an X-ray machine.

Hey, maybe we can use that machine to check people for bone fractures, after an accident. That would be a lot cheaper than healthcare, wouldn’t it?

We should test that. So stick your arm in there, next time you visit The Tower, and see if the deputies find that humerus.

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