To the editor:
I read the article in the Great Bend Tribune: “County to pay $71,000 for courthouse repairs” (Nov. 26th issue, posted online Nov. 25). Apparently, structural engineers discovered that the caulking along the interior of the west wall of the 4th floor near the top of the building had deteriorated, and it allowed seepage of “rainwater to infiltrate the building for an estimated five to ten years,” the article stated.
I have personally been inside the Barton County courthouse during that time period and noticed suspicious spots. It is good that the repairs are being done to prevent further damage and erosion. However, I would kindly suggest that building maintenance supervisors also take a look at the north wall (almost to the northwest corner of the same 4th floor).
I don’t have the eagle eye that my great-grandfather William Hampel had (a noted builder in Great Bend in the 1920s and 1930s). He played no role in its construction, since the courthouse predates him; however, I do have a layman’s perspective of concern. Ironically, on my last visit to the courthouse, I was there to meet a second-cousin of mine who is also his descendant. At the time, I was curious whether water was seeping into the courthouse!
The courthouse is a marvelous edifice. It should be remembered that fierce Arctic winter snows and torrential rains often have plagued that west wall (and the north wall). The south outer wall is often exposed to sunlight and water can drain quickly and evaporate. However, portions of that northern wall of the 4th floor could be at-risk, too. The north is largely shaded and even interiors could be subject to poor drainage or condensation of interior walls, over the years.
I hope all the repairs can be made. It makes it awkward that it is so labor-intensive that removing stucco and debris requires the tedious (and slow) job of carting discards down the courthouse elevators. I’m hoping for the best. I wish everyone well. But, I believe there is a strong likelihood of additional “unseen damage” to the courthouse interior that hasn’t been fully discovered, yet. However, now is the time to fix it and fix it properly.
James A. Marples