(SALEM) - The Washington County Courthouse is in serious trouble structurally.
Washington County Commissioner Phil Marshall and Councilman Jonathan Spaulding recently met with a structural engineer from Bloomington, who inspected the building and identified a number of issues.
"We have a building about to fall down," Marshall said, trying to emphasize the seriousness of the situation. "There are some serious problems we need to address that can't wait."
The Salem Democrat reports, several years ago, Washington County paid at least $204,273 to T&G Construction for a new roof and at least $142,702 to BJB for repairs to the exterior stonework. The recent severe winter didn't help, with water working its way between the blocks, freezing and thawing, and popping the stones.
But the roof and walls continue to leak and are causing interior damage to the courtroom, the judge's chambers and the clerk's office.
Officials say entire exterior needs to be tuckpointed and windows will need fixed. The men recommend hiring another part-time person to help clean the courthouse, freeing the custodian so he can spend more time on maintenance issues.
Both men agree the county can't afford to pay for a big repair job, but stressed the county also can't afford not to take care of the courthouse.
Mark Clark, attorney for the county, said money might be available in the county's cumulative building fund and that the state also has a fund for historic courthouses.
The engineer who recently inspected the building did so at no cost to the county and is putting the information in report form. Once that report is completed, county officials will have a better idea of what needs to be done and can solicit bids.
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