Repair work on courthouse continues

February 4, 2013
Steel beams have been attached to old wooden timbers in the attic of the Greene County Courthouse after it was discovered last year that the wood beams were separating at the joints. - Jon Stevens / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

WAYNESBURG – Repair work continues on large wood timbers between the ceiling and roof of the original section of the Greene County Courthouse that were found to be separating at the joints above Judge William Nalitz’s courtroom early last year.

Steel beams have been bolted to the old wood beams to reinforce them so they won’t separate again. They were lowered into the attic through a boxed hole on the courthouse roof that had one time contained a fan.

The problem with the wood timbers, which are believed to be part of the building’s original 1850 construction, was discovered when jurors in Nalitz’s courtroom, courtroom No. 1, noticed movement in the ceiling above Nalitz’s bench.

Emergency repairs were made and plans were developed to repair the beams permanently.

In September, the county commissioners awarded a contract to make the repairs to Allegheny Restoration of Morgantown, W.Va., in the amount of $394,566.

A contract also was awarded to KMAC Inc., of Pittsburgh for $96,800 to update the sprinkler system. The existing system had leaked several times in the last 10 years, after water in the sprinkler lines froze and broke the pipes or fittings.

One major leak in January 2009 had resulted in extensive damage to the courtroom and offices below it.

The existing sprinkler system will be replaced with a dry-pipe system that only fills with water when heat activates the system, said Chief Clerk Jeff Marshall .

A third contract also was awarded at the time to make needed updates to the courthouse heating and air conditioning system. That contract went to Mountain Air Sheet Metal of Cross Lanes, W.Va., in the amount of $51,800.

Work began in October and has proceeded fairly smoothly. Marshall said several change orders have added $25,000 to the total cost.

Marshall said Monday the project should be completed between March 4-11.

During the work, Courtroom No. 1 has not been used. A temporary courtroom has been established in the law library on the third floor of the newer addition. Nalitz’s chambers also have been moved to a room on the third floor.

Jon Stevens was the Observer-Reporter’s Greene County bureau chief. During his 41 years with the O-R, he covered county government, courts and politics, and won statewide and regional writing awards.

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