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Published: Friday, 2/2/2007

Hillsdale courthouse repair costs going up

HILLSDALE - The cost of improvements at the 109-year-old Hillsdale County courthouse continues to rise, with the latest estimate reaching $740,000 as additional repairs are identified.

Al Ringenberg, District 2 county commissioner and chairman of the buildings and grounds committee, has recommended the commissioners include repairs to the clock tower and the roof in the package, which will go out for bid next month. He said the roof of the courthouse, which was built in 1898, is leaking and sagging.

The commissioners last week agreed to add the clock tower and roof repairs to the project, but will seek additional studies on the roof before seeking bids.

The commissioners initially asked architect John Meyer to put together a specification package for bidding that would include installing an elevator and creating handicap-accessible restrooms on the first and second floors, and changing the basement office area to make it more accessible and efficient.

Adding space within the elevator addition would allow for security screening areas, Mr. Ringenberg said.

Mr. Meyer has estimated the work would cost $740,000.

In 2003, Mr. Meyer estimated the elevator, security functions, and basement work would cost $512,000, but the lowest bid was $739,000, prompting the commissioners to table the project.

Under the new plan, the rotunda area would be painted and other cosmetic improvements made in the area. That project was shelved more than three years ago because of concerns about the capital budget.

That fund has more than $900,000 in it. In addition, the commissioners plan to keep placing some proceeds from the revolving delinquent tax-fund reserve account into the capital account each year.

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