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Courthouse project to cost $1.5 million

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 28, 2015 at 3:49 PM

The Huron County Courthouse is slated for some internal surgery this summer a $1.5 million project to make the courthouse and county office buildings more energy efficient.

The commissioners accepted bids this week from Industrial Power Systems, of Toledo, for about $1.2 million for the mechanical work and Atlas Electrical Construction, of Elyria, for about $220,000 for the electrical work. The total also includes about 10 percent for "contingency" or emergency costs.

The project includes new boilers for the courthouse, the treasurer's building and the recorder's building, all located on Main Street. The courthouse also will get new air conditioning and more energy efficient lighting.

Commissioner Ralph Fegley said the boilers are in such bad shape that "I feel fortunate we got this far this winter without any major catastrophes."

The boilers are running at only 40 percent efficiency, Fegley said, and the heating system is so poor that some offices need to run the air conditioning during the winter in order to control the temperatures.

The commissioners originally had estimated the project would cost $965,000. But initial bids received came back in the $2 million range. The scope of the project has been pared down and contractors will do work during normal business hours, rather than in the evening. The bulk of the work will take place between June 15 and Aug. 15 and the court will likely seek an alternate location to operate in during that time.

"We want everything to continue as normal as possible in the day-to-day business of those offices," commissioner Mike Adelman said. "We're certainly going to be looking to coordinate scheduling."

Poggemeyer will meet with the contractors to decide on a start date, but Adelman said the project should be completed by Oct. 1.

Because the savings are projected at about $137,000 per year, the commissioners had hoped to repay a loan from the County Commissioners' Association of Ohio in 10 years. However, because the costs have increased the commissioners are likely looking at a longer repayment period and possibly supplementing the loan repayment through other county funds.

"We have to do this, we've reached a break point," said Fegley, who added costs likely would have increased the longer the county waited. When it is all said and done, including contingency costs, possibly installing a new fire alarm system and addition support services such as asbestos removal, if found the project could cost the county $2 million.

In addition, even more work could be done to the courthouse if the county receives part of an $860,000 request for a line item in the federal budget. If the county got all or part of the money it would go toward new bathrooms, the replacement of the main floor of the courthouse and a weather vestibule, which would add a second set of doors to the main entrance to keep warm summer air and cold winter air from penetrating the courthouse.

Fegley said many people in the county have told him they are happy with the commissioners work on energy efficiency.

"I appreciate all the support from people in the community. It's a good feeling."

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