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Courthouse renovations underway

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INFORMATIONAL SIGNS: With the steps barricaded, Huntington County Courthouse visitors are being directed to use the west handicap ramp area to enter the building.
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MASONRY WORK:Greg Shaffer, Midwest Maintenance, Ohio, working on masonry on the Huntington County Courthouse on Monday morning.

By JENNIFER PERYAM - jperyam@h-ponline.com

Huntington County Courthouse is undergoing a $6 million renovation to preserve the life of the building, originally constructed in 1904.

A sign was placed on the west side of the courthouse on March 2 advising visitors to use the ramp entrance instead of the steps.  A gate also prevents visitors from entering the area where brick and mortar work is taking place.

In addition to repairing brick and mortar on the exterior of the courthouse, the project also includes a new heating and cooling system that will be brought up to today’s standards, new LED lighting inside the courthouse and new electrical ADA compliant bathrooms on the second floor. A new exterior roof also will be installed on the courthouse.

“There are cracks and mortar that are being fixed. We want to make sure everything is safe for those visiting the courthouse,” Huntington County commissioner Tom Wall said.

The Huntington County Council worked to get money to make sure the courthouse is kept in pristine condition, said Wall.

The council bonded to get the project completed. The bonds are paid out of the Courthouse Cumulative Fund.

Wall said there was a crack in the mortar of the courthouse on the east side that fell off three years ago. That county did not know there was a crack in the piece of the mortar until it fell off.

He said that made the county aware that they need to be more vigilant on the repairs of the outside of the courthouse.

“The workers are going around securing the cracks to make sure water cannot get in there and freeze,” Wall said.

“The idea is to maintain and preserve the historic structure and take care of maintenance that should have been done a long time ago but we didn’t have the technology to see what really needed to be done,” Wall said.

He said there were will be repairs to the cracks and mortars of the courthouse that will be ongoing this summer on all the exterior sides of the courthouse.

DLZ Engineering, Fort Wayne, is the engineering firm helping to manage the project. Ameresco, Columbus, Ohio, is helping with the heating and cooling and electrical upgrades.

Greg Ricker, courthouse facilities manager, said Midwest Maintenance, Piqua, Ohio, is the contractor for the masonry work.

He said work on the north side of the courthouse was completed last fall.

“We still need to do work on the west, south and east sides. It will take six to eight weeks per side,” Ricker said.

He said the roof project  will begin in April and take eight weeks to complete.

“The roof is past its usefulness and needs replaced,” Ricker said. A & S Roofing, Muncie is contracted for that work.

Also on the the to-do list is a new cooling unit. In addition, the second floor restrooms are undergoing electrical work currently, as well as plumbing work.

New heating systems were installed on the east side of the courthouse. They are already up and running.