Courthouse “Phase 1” Draws To An End
By Mike Scott
Clark County’s 137-year-old courthouse has been getting some much-needed attention to stabilize the sagging structure, but its future still remains unclear.
The venerable building, the eighth oldest courthouse in the state in continuous use, has experienced significant deterioration of its foundation. Because of the building’s accelerated movement, in January the county received an emergency stabilization grant in the amount of $57,500 from the Historic Preservation Revolving Fund, which is funded by the nonresident athletes and entertainers tax. The program is administered through the Department of Natural Resources' State Historic Preservation Office.
On Thursday, August 28, the Clark County commissioners met with Roger Versules of S&V Consultants from Jefferson City. Versules was in town to inspect recent stabilization repairs made by Whiston Construction of Kahoka.
The repairs consisted of installing timbers and jacks in the basement to provide additional support, repairing joists in the attic, and placing a band around the building to prevent further movement.
“With the band around the building, we should not see much movement, with it all tied together as a unit,” said Versules
Versules also complimented the work. “They’re (the bands) are pretty inconspicuous,” he said. “All the courthouse employee’s have been very complimentary of Mike’s work.”
Still remaining in the first phase is to completes some roofing repairs and covering the brick exposed by removing the chimney on the east side of the building.
“We have to keep water and pigeons out,” Versules said.
The bricks and soffit will probably be covered with sheet metal and sealed.
The next phase of the project is to evaluate restoration, repair and renovation cost compared to new construction
“Our next step will be a planning grant to decide on restoration or replacement. One big key will be to revie the space allocation,” Versules said, noting that they needed to include the county’s offices in the Hiller Building across the street in the planning process.
“You can never have too much space,” said commissioner Wayne Bourgeois. “That’s what happened with the jail. We had to keep cutting it down to get the bond issue passed, and now they next to nothing for storage space.”
The Phase 2 studies would be funded by separate grant through the DNR.
Phase 3 would be the design work for renovation or replacement of the building, as well as the actual construction project.
Versules indicated that the commissioners need to involve their ”courthouse committee” members in the next phase..
“In September, I’d like to get a schedule set for the next phase,” Versules said. “Then you can go to the voters with a plan and your cost projections”