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County to pay $71,000 for courthouse repairs
West wall of 4th floor to be replaced
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Commissioner Jim Daily motions to accept a bid from Brentwood Builders for $71,000 to complete repairs to the interior walls along the west side of the 4th floor of the Barton County Courthouse. The problem stemmed from compromised caulking along an eyebrow at the top of the building which allowed water to infiltrate between the brick exterior and the stucco interior. The eyebrow and caulking were repaired this past summer.

Barton County Administrator Phil Hathcock addressed county commissioners Monday morning, providing background concerning a proposed contract to complete repairs to the entire interior west wall of the courthouse now that the exterior of the building has been addressed. While workers were addressing years of deferred maintenance to the exterior facade of the building this past summer, it was discovered that caulking along an eyebrow near the top of the building had failed, and allowed water to infiltrate the building for an estimated five to ten years. “Now that we’ve repaired the problem, we’re going to fix the symptom,” he said. 

That will mean the removal of all stucco along the interior west wall of the 4th floor, end to end. The project also includes repair of the walls and repainting the offices. After requesting bids and running adds locally and in trade publications for a period of months, Brentwood Builders was the only company to submit a bid on the project. They will charge the county $71,000. 

Hathcock pointed out the job will be labor intensive, because the only way to remove the debris is by loading it into trash barrels and hauling it out through the elevators. This will be done after hours in order to avoid disrupting the normal operations of the courthouse. 

“Also, quite a bit of the offices are affected so we’re going to have to relocate employees, and we’re not quite sure what we’re going to find once we remove the damage,” he said. 

There is concern due to the presence of water and an odor in that vicinity that mold may be exposed. 

“I think we were all surprised when that bid came in, because it’s a lot of money,” Commissioner Jennifer Schartz said. “I take a lot of personal responsibility for this building because we just celebrated its 100 year anniversary. WE need to take care of it and we owe it to the taxpayers for it to look decent.” 

Commissioners were in agreement when Commissioner Jim Daily motioned to accept the bid. A patron, Charles Dixon, questioned the cost of the project, stating he felt it was excessive. He asked if the work could be done by county employees, noting they could learn what they needed to complete the project by watching videos available on the internet. 

Hathcock responded, stating first that the county runs lean on employees, and they did not have the manpower available to do the work. Secondly, he said, insurance regulations would prohibit a do-it-yourself approach to a project of this magnitude which could expose employees to hazardous materials like lead-based paint or mold. 

“I think the fact that we have a lot of very qualified builders in this area, and none of them wanted to touch this project except for one tells us this job is pretty specialized,” Schartz said. “I want somebody who’s an expert to do it. I want quality work because I hope this building will last another hundred years.” 

Dixon confirmed with Hathcock that the county followed its usual bidding process. He had no further questions. 

Barton County Commission meeting at a glance

Here is a quick look at what the Barton County Commission did Monday morning:

• Approved a proposal for stucco wall repairs for the interior wall of the Barton County Courthouse fourth floor.

Barton County published a request for proposals in September, said County Administrator Phil Hathcock. The project requires the removal and replacement of water-damaged stucco from the west interior wall, as well as other repair and replacement as needed. Brentwood Builders of Great Bend submitted the only proposal at a cost of $71,000. 

• Approved an occupancy agreement with the Cottonwood Extension Council and State of Kansas Parole Office to use the county building at 12th and Kansas.

As a means of community support, the council and parole office are housed in the county office building at 1208 Kansas. Each agency has use of the county’s phone and long distance services, and reimburses the county for a portion of the building’s utility costs. 

Each agency has a separate agreement for the provided space and services. The agreements, which remain unchanged, will expire Dec. 31, 2020. 

• Heard an update on the All Stars program from Juvenile Services Director Marissa Woodmansee.

County to close for Thanksgiving

Barton County office buildings will be closed on Thursday and Friday in observance of the Thanksgiving holiday. The Barton County Health Department and the Records Division of the Sheriff’s Office will be closed both days. 

The Barton County Landfill will be closed on Thursday. It will reopen from 8-11 a.m. Friday, and on Saturday, it will return to normal operational hours. 

Emergency services will be in normal operation.