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Dormant committee gears up to tackle needs

Lucas County officials to explore project costs

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Exterior of the Lucas County Courthouse in Toledo.

THE BLADE
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With a renewed interest in restoring some long-neglected facets of the Lucas County Courthouse, a dormant “courthouse improvements committee” is reconvening.

Court Administrator Don Colby has called a meeting of the committee for July 16 “to start the discussion of what is needed in the building and to start to price out what those needs will cost.”

At least two members of the committee, Common Pleas Judge Dean Mandros and Clerk of Courts Bernie Quilter, were part of a delegation from Lucas County that attended a two-day conference in May put on by the Ohio Supreme Court that focused on historic courthouses’‍ value, ways to pay for maintenance and improvements, and how to address issues like integrating technology and security into the century-old buildings.

Mr. Colby said he recently organized a courthouse tour for the Lucas County commissioners, although they are clearly aware of the deferred maintenance on the 1897 courthouse as well as the need for aesthetic improvements.

“We have a list of maintenance projects that have been deferred on the building, and we’re trying to come up with projects and prioritize them knowing that we won’t be able to do them all at one time,” he said.

Carol Contrada, the commissioners’‍ president, called the courthouse “a magnificent, architectural gem” in the county and the state.

“The careful preservation of this historic building is important to both the legal community and all Lucas County residents,” she said.

Mr. Quilter said he’s on board.

“I think it’s important that we put together a plan on how to address the courthouse’s needs for the future,” he said.

By state law, any plans to build, alter, repair, or improve a courthouse must be submitted to the county commissioners along with the clerk of courts, sheriff, probate judge, “and one person to be appointed by the judge of the court of common pleas, for their approval.”

Mr. Colby said the committee has not met for several years as budget constraints did not allow the county to pursue any major work on the building.

The courthouse improvements committee also includes Lucas County Prosecutor Julia Bates, Probate Judge Jack Puffenberger, and Sheriff John Tharp.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-213-2134.

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