Courthouse project nearing completion

March 6, 2013
Although the benches are covered with protective plastic and sprinkler system holes remain in the ceiling, Greene County Judge William Nalitz is expected to return to his courtoom no later than the end of the month. Nalitz was relocated to the third floor of the courthouse while timbers between the ceiling and roof were reinforced with steel. - Jon Stevens / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

WAYNESBURG – Judge William Nalitz’s courtroom has been painted and workmen from KMAC Inc., of Pittsburgh, are completing the installation of a new sprinkler system.

This means that the $600,000 repair to compromised timbers between the ceiling and roof of the original section of the Greene County Courthouse is about done and the five-month project should be wrapped up by the end of the month.

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.

Engineers discovered that the large wood timbers were found to be separating at the joints, probably from roof leaks that caused water damage to the wood.

Steel beams have been bolted to the old 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 at one time contained a fan.

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 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 was replaced with a dry-pipe system that only fills with water when heat activates the system.

A third contract also was awarded 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. Chief Clerk Jeff Marshall said several change orders have added $25,000 to the total cost.

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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