News From Terre Haute, Indiana

October 2, 2013

EDITORIAL: A shining restoration

County made wise choice with cost-efficient dome project


The Tribune-Star

---- — The splendid dome atop the Vigo County Courthouse serves as an ornate punctuation mark on Terre Haute’s skyline. One could effectively argue that it is, by far, the most recognizable and familiar architectural image in the county.

So there is value in keeping it in good shape, which is what the county commissioners set out to do last spring when they contracted with a restoration firm to spruce up the dome and some of its surrounding architectural pieces.

But the commissioners had a problem to resolve first. Money is not necessarily in plentiful supply these days for Vigo County or any other public entity. It would be difficult to justify spending an exorbitant amount on a courthouse dome project, especially on top of recent extensive courthouse renovations.

To duplicate a previous restoration — done decades ago — would require replacing the copper skin at a cost of around $1 million. Yet another option existed that would be less expensive. That included repairing and sealing the dome with a gold finish. Total cost: $180,000. More precisely, the process involved multiple coatings of a clear, protective sealant applied before and after two coatings of gold pigment developed in Germany.

While the commissioners knew that choosing the less expensive option might subject them to criticism from some segments the community, they chose to go that route. Moreover, they were confident that the job would be done well because the company doing the work specialized in historic restorations and has done a number of courthouses across the Midwest and the country.

We think the commissioners made a wise decision. Not only does the new dome restoration look great, the project was done prudently.

The Vigo County Courthouse was built 125 years ago and has stood the test of time. With periodic and cost-efficient restorations such as the one just completed, it should last many, many more.

You can say that again

“Everyone knows Washington is broken, but too few people are talking about what that means for real people. The economy suffers, people looking for work suffer, and countless families, business owners, and farmers simply seeking responsible behavior from the people they elected suffer. This is unacceptable, and we must do better.”

— Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly following the failure by  House and Senate to reach an agreement to keep the federal government operating