Renovations begin at Madison County courthouse, administration buildings

News-DemocratJune 17, 2014 

— That lattice of scaffolding around the Madison County Courthouse will be there into the fall, preparing the building for its 100th anniversary.

The Madison County Courthouse was constructed in 1915, and it's been getting a little worn down. The scaffolding going up will permit workers to clean, tuckpoint and repair the stone building.

"The courthouse is going to be 100 years old in 2015, so we thought it was a good idea to restore it and preserve it for another hundred years," said County Administrator Joe Parente. "The County Board was approached by the chief judge and circuit clerk about this over a year ago... We felt this was a good time."

But it's not just a face-lift: the courthouse also needs interior work, including a heating and air conditioning system that needs replacement to address air quality issues.

The County Administration Building next door may be a lot younger, but it also has some issues being addressed this summer. A deep cleaning and resealing of the building will take place following damage from burst pipes this past winter, and the roof is being replaced.

The courthouse repairs will cost about $1.48 million. The administration building repairs will be about $312,000, and the new roof will cost $499,000.

The big construction project, of course, was to be renovation and expansion of the Madison County Jail. Parente said that is temporarily on hold, as officials reexamine the critical needs.

A county referendum failed to approve the $18.8 million bond sale necessary to fund the project earlier this year. "Now we are on a pay-as-you-go basis," Parente said. "We are reexamining the (needs assessment) study and prioritizing the most critical needs, correcting them as funds become available."

However, Parente said that will take years. There are code issues, electrical problems, plumbing, space and security issues, not to mention that the jail has no sprinkler system. "We are figuring out what we need to address first," Parente said. "The deficiencies are still there; they don't go away with the lack of financing... Some of these systems are deteriorating to the point where it may become dangerous."

Contact reporter Elizabeth Donald at edonald@bnd.com or 618-239-2507.

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