Courthouse repairs: 3-4 months

Temporarily centralizing offices hoped

By BRIAN GRAVES Staff Writer
Posted 10/3/17

It is likely there will be no business done inside the Bradley County Courthouse until the calendar pages turn to 2018.

However, many entities are stepping up to the plate to offer their help …

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Courthouse repairs: 3-4 months

Temporarily centralizing offices hoped

Posted

It is likely there will be no business done inside the Bradley County Courthouse until the calendar pages turn to 2018.

However, many entities are stepping up to the plate to offer their help in ensuring Bradley County citizens are not denied the services they need during the time the courthouse is being repaired following Saturday morning’s fire.

That was the news from Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis as he met Monday with department heads and others involved in the effort to secure temporary quarters for the county departments housed in the courthouse.

Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland and City Manager Joe Fivas were also in attendance at the meeting to offer the city’s assistance.

Child support court will now be held in the city’s council room, thanks to the help offered by the city.

Rowland said the city stands ready to do more.

“We are offering anything we have — any room, any closet — whatever you may need in both the municipal building and the Police Services Center,” Rowland said. “If our IT people can help to connect any computers, they are available as well. You can use our space around the clock. Anything we have is yours.”

During Rowland’s remarks, Court Clerk Gayla Miller got a message from Andrew Johnson Bank offering space within their building if needed.

“We have gotten more than 10 offers of space like that,” Davis said. “The question for the department heads is do you want the citizens going in 10 different directions, or do you want to try to get something centralized?”

He noted the courts have “done a good job keeping it centralized.”

“That wasn’t done until today, but it was worth the extra day,” Davis said. “We could have had courts all over Bradley County.”

Davis said spaces that are available with “some prettier than others; some would be perfect for one and not for another one.”

“There’s not many that would hold everybody, but we still have those options,” he said.

He then asked the department heads if they wanted to “go ahead and do your own thing” or try to narrow down options to one or two locations.

Davis said there is one location which could hold everyone being focused on “that is still doable, but the person in charge of the property is not available to sign on the dotted line yet.”

“It’s ‘public ready,’” Rowland added.

“The cost would be really good, but that is a ‘tomorrow’ decision,” Davis said. “If you want to pull the plug on that let me know, but please think on behalf of the citizens, too.”

The mayor said HVAC contractors and adjusters have been to the courthouse.

“All of that is going to work out, but it’s just like I feared,” he said. “It’s basically about building [the new HVAC systems]. It’s six to eight weeks for delivery and probably close to that for installation.”

The county had already contracted with Energy Systems Group for renovation of the HVAC system and the lights within the courthouse.

“You are looking at three to four months,” Davis said. “If we can get it all worked out, we’ll just do it all at once. They can’t do a part of the system and not do the other part because the new system won’t work with the old one. They have designed a whole new system.”

He said the ceilings and grids are being torn out “and everything is being replaced.”

Davis reminded the department heads of how insurance normally handles a situation like this.

“If your house burns down, you don’t have forever to live in the motel,” Davis said. “You only have a certain amount of time. We would hope we can get in one or two locations at a minimum cost.”

Davis said he believes that his ideal choice of location, which is not being publicly identified while negotiations are ongoing, could probably hold all of the county offices.

The consensus was to wait for today and see if that location is made available. If so, software vendors were telling department heads they could be up and running as early as Thursday.

“If we get the go-ahead, you all would go look at it and decide who goes where,” Davis said. “That would occur [today] if we get the OK.”

Davis said the cleaning service would begin Wednesday with removal of ceiling tiles and grids, as well as the cleaning of all items that will likely remain in the building.

“It’s going to be slow for a while, and that’s why this move is so important,” he said.

As for courthouse security, access will be limited to those who are working on the repairs.

Elected officials will be present any time it is necessary to access their offices in the courthouse.

Davis said as far as employees who work at the courthouse are concerned, they will be paid for Monday and Tuesday as if they are snow days, since they are out of work because of circumstances outside of their control.

“By the time they all get moved and catch up on their duties, they will likely more than make up for those days off,” Davis told the Banner. “I have total confidence in the staff that works here and their dedication to serving the citizens of Bradley County. There will be no waste of taxpayers’ money. This is an extraordinary situation. I think people understand that.”

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