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Published: Saturday, 1/21/2012

Scrap metal on way from courthouse site

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
The operator of a piece of B&B Wrecking equipment pauses as a truck moves into position to remove scrap metal from the ruins of the Seneca County Courthouse. The operator of a piece of B&B Wrecking equipment pauses as a truck moves into position to remove scrap metal from the ruins of the Seneca County Courthouse.
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TIFFIN -- The wrecking company tearing down Seneca County's 1884 courthouse began Friday to haul away the estimated 110 tons of scrap metal salvaged from the building.

Brian Baumann, president of B&B Wrecking and Excavating of Cleveland, said he believes the courthouse had about 220,000 pounds of structural steel and other scrap metal. All of it is being separated from the building debris as the courthouse is torn down, and all of it will be recycled, he said.

"Let's recycle that stuff that someone carved by hand," Kevin Huth of Tiffin said as he pointed out the ornate cherry woodwork on the second and third floors now exposed by the demolition.

Watching the work in Friday's below-freezing temperatures, Mr. Huth, 55, said he never thought the courthouse would be destroyed, and now that it is, he can't believe that so many of its beautiful features are going to a landfill.

"I wish someone would answer that for me," he said.

In November, Seneca County commissioners voted 2-1 to award a $373,000 demolition contract to B&B that gave the wrecking firm full salvage rights. Because the contract also specified a 60-day time period to remove asbestos and then level the massive building, Mr. Baumann has said the salvage firms that went through the courthouse did not feel they could remove and sell the architectural features in a cost-effective way without more time.

Some door hinges, heat registers, the clockworks, and a fraction of the decorative wood trim and doors were salvaged before the wrecking ball hit Jan. 9, but onlookers have shaken their heads at what was left inside.

"I was born and raised here, and I just never thought they'd tear it down," Mr. Huth said. "I think I'm part of the silent majority. We should've spoken up sooner."

The next big task will be razing the courthouse's clock tower, constructed over the original tower in the 1940s. The next big task will be razing the courthouse's clock tower, constructed over the original tower in the 1940s.
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After two full weeks of demolition work, Mr. Baumann estimated the courthouse was slightly more than halfway dismantled.

He said workers would continue to haul off scrap metal Monday and Tuesday and truck the sandstone block and brick to the Seneca County Engineer's garage just south of Tiffin beginning Tuesday.

Mechanics still are repairing the engine of B&B's crane, which hasn't been running since the first day of demolition. Mr. Baumann said he hoped they could re-install the engine by Wednesday and use the crane to begin tearing down the clocktower by Thursday.

The generally unpopular Art Deco-style tower, which was built over the original tower in the 1940s, likely will be razed "piece by piece, nothing exciting," he said.

Also Friday, B&B workers were fortifying a protective wooden barrier covering the entrance to the 2004 courthouse annex building in preparation for tearing down the courthouse wall situated next to the annex.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-724-6129.



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