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County Commissioners say courthouse museum repairs are urgently needed
County Commissioners say courthouse museum repairs are urgently needed

Rotting wood poses a major problem at the Old Courthouse Museum, commissioners warned.
PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (March 15, 2010) — After checking the outside of the old Courthouse Museum next to the current courthouse, county commissioners decided Monday morning that major repairs are needed, and they need to be made as soon as possible to prevent even higher costs later.

County Clerk Diana Linnenbringer said the last cost estimate she received for Courthouse Museum repairs was $47,000, but Western District Commissioner Ricky Zweerink warned that the repairs are likely to be even higher.

“Do you know how much it’s going to cost if you have to contract that out? It’s going to be enormous. Is it possible, and it probably is not, that we could get some contractors to donate their time to do this as a community service?” Zweerink asked.

“The last time we looked at it, we were concerned mostly about aesthetics. Now there a lot more damage than the wood,” said Eastern District Commissioner Bill Farnham, who asked if grants may be available for repair work.

Work at the Courthouse Museum is probably not eligible for grants, Linnenbringer said.

“Previously it was if we had someone working there it was eligible for grants, but because nobody is working there at the courthouse, it is not,” she said.

Farnham asked Linnenbringer to check again with the Meramec Regional Planning Commission to see if new funds may have become available through the federal economic stimulus program that weren’t previously available.

After discussion, the three commissioners and Linnenbringer decided to inspect the outside of both the new courthouse and the old courthouse to see what work needed to be done. After only a quick check, they discovered major problems including a leaning chimney, rotted wood window frames, broken wood railings, and seriously deteriorated bricks.

Presiding Commissioner Don McCulloch said the window wood needs immediate attention.

“If we don’t do something quick these windows are going to be gone,” McCulloch said.

“I think they’re already gone,” Farnham said.

Zweerink said it may be better to replace the wooden window frames with metal than trying to build new wooden frames, despite the historic nature of the courthouse.

“I’d go for the aluminum if it can be done,” Zweerink said. “With all the technology they have, they can likely make it look just like wood.”

While the wood work is important, Farnham said the brick chimney poses an immediate safety hazard.

“With Christmas on the Square and all the snow and ice, you don’t know what could happen,” Farnham said.

While the commissioners noted major problems on the old courthouse, an inspection of the new courthouse showed mostly a need for powerwashing to remove dirt, but also some cracks on the floor underneath Prosecutor Deborah Hooper’s office, which overhangs part of the building.

“That’s Hooper’s office; she may come falling through there,” McCulloch said.

Zweerink said the new courthouse is in remarkably good shape for a two-decades-old building.

“Other than a good cleaning, I didn’t see there’s much work needing to be done,” Zweerink said.

After returning to their office in the courthouse, the commissioners discussed what should be done on the building work.

“We can put it in the paper for bids, but my experience is people don’t read the ads so it’s going to be mostly word of mouth,” Linnenbringer said.

McCulloch reminded the commissioners that they do have a courthouse maintenance fund with a balance of nearly $2 million that’s intended to be used for purposes such as the repair work.

“We have the funds to maintain it, and that’s what it is to be used for, and that only,” McCulloch said.

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