Last year in April when we asked the voters to approve an increase in the county sales tax, we indicated that a portion of the funding would be used to maintain our facilities, including major repairs to our courthouse. We are beginning a major construction project of nearly $1 million that we believe will repair our courthouse for a generation. And because it is listed as a Historic Building, we will secure the approval of the State Historical Preservation Society before starting the work.
This project will begin later this month and should be complete in the spring of 2019. The project will include the following: 1) A New Roof: We have had leaks in the Courthouse and this will fix the problem. Without a new roof to protect the building, most other improvements would be moot. We will be able to use the existing tiles which still have a long life, but underneath the tiles will be the new roof.
2) Tuck pointing and a complete cleaning of the outside of the building: If you take a good look at the outside of our courthouse, you will see that it is dirty from years of build up of soot, exhaust and dirt. We believe that this cleaning will really show off the beauty of our courthouse.
3) All new doors and windows: Some of our 90 plus windows are original windows that are over 100 years old. The new windows will be energy efficient. The new doors will help with security, which I will discuss in some detail below, and it will include bullet resistant glass that is commonly used in schools and other public facilities. A number of the very old windows are pealing badly and are an energy waste. The new windows will be energy efficient and will also greatly improve the looks of the courthouse.
4) LED lighting: Our current lighting system has outdated fixtures and is also a high energy expense. Changing the fixtures and lights to LED will actually pay for itself in a few years with lower utility costs.
5) Addressing costly electrical issues: We have had some significant issues of fuses blowing and have difficulty getting to the electrical box that is in the elevator, so we are making changes to address these electrical issues.
The General Contractor for this project is Energy Service Company (CTS Group) out of St. Louis. The Commission used CTS a number of years ago to put in our geothermal heating and cooling system. They did an outstanding job for us at that time and come highly recommended by other counties who have used them for major courthouse upgrades and improvements. While CTS will be the general contractor and project manager on the project, we, have made it known to them that local subcontractor participation was very important, and they made sure to include them where possible. CTS will guarantee us a fixed cost and will oversee the subcontractors, all while working with the State Historical Preservation Society to meet their requirements. They will also help arrange financing of the project. Municipal financing for this project at a project rate of between 3% and 3 1/2% will keep the payment under $100,000 per year for 15 years which was what we had allocated in our tax issue in order to maintain and improve the building.
Additionally, there is nearly $12,000 in guaranteed operational and maintenance savings per year.
6) Courthouse Security: As part of this project, later this month or in the first week of December, we will have a full- time security officer in the courthouse who will operate a metal detector for all people entering the building. Previously, this was being done only on days in which court was in session. We are in a five-county judicial circuit, and we will be the third of the five counties to add fulltime security. A fourth county is right behind us with similar plans. We had an example of the importance in courthouse security a couple of years ago when an individual brought a knife into the courthouse with plans of assaulting another individual. Fortunately, this person brought the knife in when we were having court, and it was detected with the metal detector. Without our security, the result could have been tragic. Another change in our security will be the fact that only the north door will be used for entering and exiting the courthouse. The other three doors will be for emergency exit use only and will be armed with an alarm to protect against any unlawful entrance to the building. Although this is new courthouse security and may seem like an inconvenience to the public, we sincerely believe that safety and security for the public and our staff is of vital importance and outweighs the inconvenience. Our north door was chosen as our point of entry because it is handicap accessible.
We are excited to begin this project and believe that these needed improvements will help showcase what we believe is most beautiful building in the county.