Courthouse repairs to begin next Monday, additional projects scheduled

A $3.27 million renovation of the Bartholomew County Courthouse that will take 15 months to complete will begin next Monday.

The extensive upgrades will take place as the community observes the historic building’s 150th anniversary.

Some protective tunneling will eventually be installed, as well as restrictions enacted, for the safety of courthouse workers and visitors, county commissioner Larry Kleinhenz said. But the first of these inconveniences within the 46,928-square-foot courthouse won’t take place until sometime in March, county maintenance supervisor Rick Trimpe said.

Whenever possible, crews will attempt to work on one floor at a time in order to minimize inconvenience, project director Tony Akles of Strand Associates said.

While an overview of projects were presented to the community in December, a number of additional projects were approved Monday by the commissioners.

The most expensive will be $100,775 to replace 72,000 feet of outdated data cables, county information technology director Scott Mayes said. Connections between individual computerized machines and a main communications room will also be replaced, he said.

Forster Electrical Services, Inc. of Columbus, which has already been hired to undertake other electrical work, has been asked to do the latest IT work, which Mayes said will make wiring and connections more compatible with today’s technology.

The county is also paying $33,300 to Riverside Carpet One of Columbus to replace all the carpets within the building. Both county workers and an outside contractor will handle the actual installation, Trimpe said.

Some preparations have already been completed. Over the past few months, county crews have been bringing various items up to the courthouse’s fourth flood for storage. The second of two bills paid to rent a lift to handle this chore amounted to $7,994, Trimpe said.

The most expensive project announced in December will involve replacing nearly all the pipes that control heating and cooling in the building. County officials have agreed to three optional proposals. One involves spending $21,400 to remove a third-floor chandelier installed when the courthouse was completed in 1874. The lighting fixture will be shipped off for refurbishment, shipped back and reinstalled.

A second option approved by the county includes the installation of red, green and blue LED exterior decorative lights, as well as the replacement of all conventional outdoor floodlights. The cost is $46,700.

The third and final approved option involves using stainless steel piping, rather than black carbon steel, to replace the current pipes connected to boilers and chillers that control heating and air-conditioning. Whenever possible, welding will be used to install new pipes, rather than using press fittings, to reduce the chances of a leaking joint, Akles said. Workers will also be updating second and third-floor bathrooms.

Once the project is completed in 2025, other improvements such as window and door replacements will be considered on an annual basis, the commissioners said.

The project is being funded with $2 million from the 2024 county general fund approved by the Bartholomew County Council, $1 million from the federal American Rescue Plan allocation to the county, and the remaining balance from County Economic Development Income Tax (CEDIT) revenue.