OSWEGO — Labette County commissioners hope that roof repairs that should start in July at the Labette County Judicial Center will stop persistent leaks.
Roof leaks are nothing new in recent years in the building built in Parsons in 1980.
In 2014, the commission hired Guarantee Roofing of Joplin at a cost of $176,420 to replace the judicial center roof. A heavy rain while the work was in progress caused damage inside the building. In April 2015, the roofers finally finished the work. Leaks started again in recent years.
Over the last month, with the heavy rains from May to June, jurors reporting for voir dire walked past plastic swimming pools on the floor to catch water during rains. Ceiling tiles have been removed in part of the main hallway/lobby area. A whimsical sign stated no lifeguard was on duty.
Commissioners recently approved a $39,500 contract with Horizon Roofing Systems of Welch, Oklahoma, to repair the roof again.
The judicial center, built on a design-build-finance deal, has undergone other reviews related to structural concerns. In 2013, commissioners discussed the concrete floor that’s dropped on the north side of the building. One option discussed at the time was pumping concrete into the foundation to shore up supporting concrete pillars. But that would be expensive and require the building to be empty for a time. Commissioners never took action because of the disruption to the workflow in the building and potential cost. The floor drops about an inch or more in places. An engineer found the building structurally sound and said the settling floor was expected in a building on a concrete slab.
Moisture is the latest villain. Commissioners Doug Allen and Lonie Addis heard this week that judges had a layer of moisture on their benches in the mornings. Humidifiers have been placed in the courtrooms to reduce the moisture problem and an odor that’s developed.
Windows also leak and the county’s maintenance supervisor Chris Lahey applied white flashing tape to seal windows on the north side of the building.
Commissioners have discussed remodeling the fourth floor of the courthouse in Oswego and moving court operations there, but that’s not practical because of witnesses and officers having to travel from Parsons for many of the cases.
Labette County Attorney Stephen Jones also needs more space for his office. Commissioners have agreed to allow him to take over the space of a smaller room just west of his, but that hasn’t happened yet. Commissioners also considered but declined to purchase the former Edward W. Dosh law office building on Main for the county attorney and the juvenile justice authority.
Commissioners Allen and Addis acknowledged on Friday that most of their fixes for the judicial center have been Band-Aids and not long-term solutions. The long-term solutions are expensive, though, and they’ve worked to keep the tax rate steady from year to year.
“Something’s going to have to be done,” Allen said.
Bond financing would be an option, but Addis didn’t think the county would qualify for enough general obligation bonds to complete the work. They still do not have cost estimates for what needs to be done at this time.
“We know something’s got to be done, but we don’t know what exactly that is because of the expense involved. It would be huge,” Allen said.
Allen hoped the roof repairs would mitigate some of the issues in the building.
Commissioners may discuss the issue more during 2020 budget talks, which should start in the coming weeks.
Allen thought the commission may need to start thinking about what needs to be done in the long term.
“We’re just putting out fires at this point,” he said.
In other matters, the commission:
— Agreed to allow Appraiser DeLinda White to add three free Samsung Galaxy 8 phones for field appraisers so they can access maps needed in the field. The internet access will cost $39.99 per line. She considered buying tablets for the three but the cost was too great. Verizon offers certain phones free to the county through its government plan and the Galaxy 8 is one of them.
— Agreed that Register of Deeds Julie Becker could microfilm the 37 index books in her office as a backup. The company that will microfilm the books will charge the county a little more than $8,000 for the work. The microfilm will be stored in the salt mines in central Kansas.
— Approved an appraiser’s parcel search agreement for Frontier Farm Credit for $225. The agreement allows real estate companies to search appraiser data including sales information.
— Approved an agreement with Chem-Aqua Engineered Equipment Solutions at a cost of $2,418 for equipment and $3,996 for the annual cost of the chemicals.
— Approved a cereal malt beverage license for the Good Luck Bait Shop in Parsons. notice to township board.