Dave Rogers

For The Record

 

An Orange County Commissioner’s hope to complete repairs to the front of the historic Orange County Courthouse before his term expires got hit with a wet rag Tuesday.

The best-case timetable for the repair and reinstallation of a marble facing delivered by architect John Dineen to Barry Burton and the other four members of Commissioners’ Court at the weekly meeting would be near the end of this year.

But Dineen indicated that the problem of the marble peeling off the front of the granite building, first discovered in 2016, may be caused by a water leak that could require a big fix, with a price tag to match.

Commissioners agreed early on to make a line-item transfer for $16,000 to pay HDR, Dineen’s company, for its work on the Courthouse Master Plan.

That Courthouse Master Plan has already set aside $175,000 — half of the expected marble repair cost of $350,000 in a grant with the county needing to put in a matching $175,000.

That match is ready to go, Burton said.

Dineen said the commissioners next had to schedule a “grant orientation” meeting with the Texas Historical Commission in the next month or so. The next step would be to remove the marble, followed by 3 to 6 weeks to design the fix and 3 to 6 months to complete construction work.

But Dineen revealed that architects putting together the Master Plan believe leaking water has rusted the metal attaching the marble to the courthouse exterior.

“Until we remove and inspect the entire façade, we won’t know why,” Dineen said.

“So you won’t know where the water’s coming in until you take the marble off,” County Judge Dean Crooks repeated.

Commissioner Johnny Trahan queried Kurt Guidry, County Maintenance Director, about the age of the courthouse roof.

Guidry said it had last been replaced in 2005. Guidry also said that the county’s contractor, SpawGlass, had found $17,000 worth of repairs needed to the roof that covers the District Clerk Annex.

A SpawGlass representative “guesstimated” that it could cost $180,000 to replace the entire courthouse roof.

Guidry sought another line-item transfer for $11,600 from “contingency emergency/disaster” to “insurance claims-repair” to pay for SpawGlass to repaint the interior of the District Clerk’s office.

SpawGlass has just finished a $37,600 contract painting the office’s ceiling and support beams as part of insurance-covered repairs for Tropical Storm Harvey damage. District Clerk Vickie Edgerly asked that the lower walls be painted as well, Guidry said.

Guidry told commissioners the office hadn’t been painted in 20 years.

However, commissioners agreed that the language of the transfer was wrong, as disaster funds couldn’t be used for non-disaster fixes. The issue is to be better defined for an upcoming agenda.

In other action Tuesday, commissioners agreed to pay $343,000 in bills and transfer $10,000 to the elections office pending reimbursement from the political parties for money spent on primary elections.

They added a 14th paid holiday to allow employees to be out of the office Dec. 23 to Dec. 25, this year falling on a Wednesday. They also awarded Reliable Cleaners a contract for Sheriff’s Office uniform cleaning.