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Commission to spiff up courthouse

Staff writer

A bent flagpole, an unwieldy trek for handicap visitors, a parking lot entrance that scrapes vehicles, two-tone pink walls with fading paint — the Marion county courthouse has seen better days.

At its end-of-the-month meeting Tuesday, the county commission took steps to remedy some of the building’s ailments.

County clerk Tina Spencer said an insurance claim would net $3,150 for the courthouse flagpole, which was bent southeasterly at an angle of approximately 30 degrees by storms that passed through the county during Labor Day weekend.

Commission chair Roger Fleming intimated that there’s no reason to replace the pole with one of the same height — 60 feet — given the risk of it bending. Commissioner Dan Holub said “if you do it the way you’re supposed to,” a taller pole means getting a larger flag, which would increase drag and stress on the pole, increasing the likelihood of damage.

The new pole would likely be about 45-50 feet high, which is the approximate height of the bend in the current pole. The three cables attached to the pole also would be removed.

The county also accepted bids totaling $2,500 for refurbishing inside the courthouse. McGuire Custom Painting placed a $2,000 bid to repaint the interior walls of the courthouse’s main hallway, which is currently two different shades of pink. McGuire also placed a separate bid of $500 dollars to refurbish the courthouse entryway with a new coat of paint for the walls and a metallic paint for the ceiling.

The walls in both the entryway and the first floor hallway will be painted a neutral color, Spencer said.

Both bids were accepted on condition that McGuire provide materials such as paint and tape. The contractor also placed alternate bids in which the county provided materials that totaled $1,900 ($1,600/$300). Commissioners said as long as the contractor uses a trusted brand, there’s less risk in allowing the contractor to choose the materials.

A plan was approved to add a two-car handicap-only lot on the southeast side of the courthouse, with a Fourth Street entrance and exit. The lot will be more accessible for people with physical disabilities. The lot will be a straightaway drive-in over the plot of land where the county jail was razed.

After the commission approved a motion to go outside and figure out measurements on the lot, commissioners bounced a couple plans back and forth, one of which included an entrance from the south parking lot, another of which would have used the entrance from the east parking lot. The plan decided on was to create a new, handicap-only lot by destroying a curb south of the entrance to the east parking lot and making a driveway from there.

“It’s the simplest plan,” Fleming said.

The lot will likely require the removal of a small tree planted nearby.

Additionally, Spencer relayed complaints she had heard from county employees who park in the south lot, saying that turning into the south lot is hazardous and potentially damaging to the underside of their vehicles, particularly when entering from the north side.

The county will take bids to improve the quality of the entrance so that cars could enter without incurring damage.

In other business:

  • The county commissioners also scheduled another interview for the EMS director position for later in the week.
  • Commissioner Randy Dallke said he had heard reports on the radio of individuals intentionally damaging stop signs around the county. He asked anyone with information to come forward if they had witnessed or had evidence of such events. The county agreed to offer a small monetary reward for evidence leading to a conviction. Dallke also lamented not being made aware of the incident sooner.

Last modified Oct. 1, 2014

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