JEFFERSON — The renovation project for the historic Marion County Courthouse is running on schedule with plans to start working on the south and west sides of the building, Kevin Scott, project superintendent, reported to the commissioners court, Monday.
“We’re looking really good,” said Scott, who is with Joe R. Jones Construction. “We’re going to start moving the scaffolding from the east side of the building.”
The downtown landmark, located at 102 West Austin St., is getting an overhaul made possible through a $4.7 million grant awarded last spring by the Texas Historical Commission’s Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program (THCPP) as well as $1 million of county money. The total renovation costs $5.7 million.
County offices moved out of the courthouse in July 2018 into a temporary location at 119 W. Lafayette St., following the awarding of the grant. Many of the offices, including the county judge, county clerk, district attorney, county treasurer, constable and district clerk’s offices will be located inside the courthouse once completed.
Renovations for the project began in June. Scott said the scaffolding will be relocated over the next couple of weeks to the south and west side of the building.
“(When) we get that scaffolding dropped and get it moved to the other two sides of the building, we’ll move much quicker, now, after the learning curve is in there, (because) everybody knows what they’re doing,” Scott said. “They’ve already done those two sides of the building, so the other two sides (will be easier).
“Plus, that’s something between the jail and the courthouse, (and it’s) really ‘plain Jane’ over there, so there’s a lot of less work on that side of the building,” he explained.
In addition to moving the scaffolding, Scott said they will also start putting sheetrock in the inside of the building soon.
And although everything is going well, Scott said that they are having an issue, however, battling the pigeons and smaller birds, at the site. He suggested that the court invest in bird slides to resolve the problem.
“With the scaffolding being able to be moved here pretty quickly, I’ve got some samples, upon the little stone ledges. It’s just a little piece of metal that’s bent. It sets up there and it keeps the birds from being able to sit there, and basically slide off,” he said. “They call it a bird slide.”
Scott said the bird slides will cost about $8,000.
“That will get all up underneath the parapets (and) the window ledges,” he said.
Scott said they explored several options, and the bird slide seems to be the best route.
“I’ve exhausted about every resource that’s out there. We priced it; and in my mind, your best dollar is on the bird slides,” he said. “It’s a one-time cost, no maintenance and your problem is solved.”
Plus, “it doesn’t hurt the birds, and it takes care of all the mess from the pigeons and the small birds,” Scott added.
The project superintendent said he wants to get the bird slides installed as soon as possible, so the work crew can finish painting.
“Right now I can’t finish painting up underneath there because, of course, the birds are still up in there and it’ll just destroy any finishes that we have up in there,” he said.
In other business, related to the renovation project, the court approved to transfer funds to repair the windows on the building. The court had approved, back in September, to use funds from a Texas Historical Commission emergency grant to repair windows to the historic courthouse, in conjunction with the renovation project.
The repair work of the 96 windows will cost $26,700, which equates to about $278 per window.
“When we spent the money to redo the windows last time, the Historical Commission wouldn’t allow caulking to be put in, so of course water run in and that’s the reason we’re having to redo this now, with caulking,” explained Commissioner Joe McKnight.
“That restoration was more than 10 years ago and with any building there’s going to be maintenance, so to go ahead and repaint that window and seal those windows while those scaffolding was in place, actually saved you a significant amount of money,” Smith advised