Courthouse project back in forefront
The Harrison County Board of Commissioners is gathering information it believes the Harrison County Council wants to show the renovation and work at the downtown courthouse is necessary.
In 2018, a study was conducted with county offices that work out of the courthouse and the commissioners to find out what problems exist at the courthouse and the best way to fix it. The plan called for replacing an aging HVAC system and positioning the new one to run more efficiently, along with installing a new security system and some other renovations that were all scheduled to take place this spring.
“It is evident it is not working properly the way it is now,” said Commissioner Kenny Saulman. “We keep having to fool with mold and everything else that is done there right now, and it’s not a good way to have a building and have people working in there and the public in there either. It needs to be fixed.”
Shireman Construction has led the design work on the project, and the company’s board chairman, Mark Shireman, approached the commissioners during their meeting Monday morning to help them make the case that the to-do list is the best action.
“You all wanted to take the long view on the building, look at it as an investment versus an expense,” Shireman said. “It is an important structure; the bones are good. It is a very important, cherished building for the county.”
Those items and others on the to-do list at the courthouse come with a $2,366,027.01 price tag.
”We (the commissioners) all falled into the idea the best thing is to go and remove and replace,” said Commissioner Jim Heitkemper. “However, we seem to have a few council members that don’t agree, and that has been our stopping point.”
During recent council meetings where this topic was discussed, some council members said they thought the project would cost between $500,000 and $750,000 and added they felt they were not part of the discussion or notified that the expense was going to be more.
According to Ben Shireman of Shireman Construction, the council had the opportunity to go to planning meetings regarding the renovations, but at least some council members who had raised concerns did not attend.
“I just feel like as much time as we spent with the council trying to get this funded, we just keep beating and beating and beating,” he said, “and we’re just not getting anywhere with this thing.”
The commissioners want Shireman Construction and others behind the design and scope of the project to approach the council next week with the information showing that the work that was bidded should be funded.
“The items that we expressed in our report have been addressed in that project,” said James Troutman, a professional engineer with Shrout Tate Wilson. “Still think it’s an important and worthwhile project to pursue.”
The council is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. Monday.
“I think it would be productive for the group of you to come to the council, at their next meeting,” said Commissioner Charlie Crawford.
He added, “Get on their agenda and kind of give the same program that you have to us.”
The commissioners’ next meeting will be Monday, June 15, at 7 p.m.