News From Terre Haute, Indiana

June 12, 2013

Vigo County jail air-handling system OK’d

Repairs for dome atop courthouse also approved

Howard Greninger
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Repairs to the dome atop the 19th-century Vigo County Courthouse and a new air-handling system for an older section of the county jail — $505,000 worth of work combined — received approval from the Vigo County Council Tuesday.

A special projects committee last month voiced concern over a nearly $400,000 price tag to replace a heating/air conditioning system on the oldest section of Vigo County Security Center.

The system, which requires controllers, levers and air-handling systems, is needed or the county would have to relocate 130 inmates to nearby county jails should the system fail.

However, Vigo County commissioners worked to obtain several proposals that would reduce that cost. The Vigo County Council, in a unanimous 7-0 vote, approved $395,000 for that work.

Councilwoman Kathy Miller, D-3rd, who chairs the council’s special projects committee, said after the meeting that new proposals from commissioners were about $300,000 to repair the air-handling system.

“The commissioners have voiced concerns about repairs to buildings, and it will be several months before we meet again. So, with the lower cost, they will have leeway” for building repairs needed for the rest of the year, she said.

During the regular council meeting, Miller said commissioners previously voiced concern over $130,000 in the 2013 budget to maintain six county buildings. The city of Terre Haute has a budget of $150,000 for two buildings, Miller said.

“I would just hope there would be no more requests for maintenance costs for the remainder of the year,” Miller said.

Commissioner Mike Ciolli said commissioners are working to keep costs down. If the cost for repair to the air-handling system exceeds $350,000, commissioners, by state law, will have to bid out the project.

Commissioners also lowered the cost of a $165,000 project to repair the damaged copper dome atop the courthouse. The dome has numerous small holes, along with larger holes the size of quarters, that allow rain to soak into the upper floor of the courthouse.

Costs were reduced by removing a project that would clean four small towers around the dome, work that is not necessary for repair of leaks. That saved $8,800.

Also, added costs such as sandblasting limestone, cleaning a Civil War monument and installing new clock faces were removed. The clocks were serviced with new face plates in late 2011. The monument, with copper statues, was cleaned in 2001.

That put the total cost for the dome’s repair at $110,000.

The dome repair would provide 20 years of warranted maintenance as long as the county applies a new clearcoat sealant on the dome every two years. Council President Bill Thomas said “to do maintenance over a 20-year period, it breaks out to $2,800 a year for 20 years to ensure we will not have any leaks.”

A catwalk around the top of the dome, which houses a smaller dome, will be repaired as part of the work. The sealant will make the dome appear to have a golden color, instead of its current green copper patina.

Commissioner Judith Anderson said commissioners are also having the dome inspected for possible insurance payments, as the dome received hail damage. Any insurance payments would offset the cost of repair, Anderson said.

Commissioners withdrew a request for an additional $16,000 to repair eight showers at the county jail with new epoxy, as part of the $395,000 appropriation will cover that work.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or howard.greninger