PUTNAM COUNTY — County commissioners are currently collecting information on the potential for restoration and repairs to the county courthouse. The inquiry was initially sparked by water leaking into the courthouse’s fourth floor, now used for long-term storage, which may be the result of damage to the tiles and underlying roof. The leaks could instead be caused by cracks that may have formed around the skylights above the courtrooms, or even from another source. An inquiry is ongoing and may eventually expand into other areas of the courthouse as well.

“Maintenance is going to take one of the tiles off to see what is underneath it,” According to Commissioner Michael Lammers. “We have been told that it is concrete, and that the tiles were pushed down into wet concrete. If that is the case, then we are almost forced to go back to the tile terra cotta look [should repairs be necessary].”

Lammers continued, “Judge Basinger has also claimed that since it is an historical building, that we have to use the same type of tile. There were discussions on how much cheaper it could be to use metal. There is even orange colored metal that is shaped to look like tile that can be possibly be used to replace it.” In 2013, Judge Basinger, along with former Putnam County Auditor Roselia Verhoff, researched and published an extensive history of the building as part of the courthouse’s 100 year anniversary.

However, as Lammers continued to explain, the roof itself may not be the source of the leaks, saying, “There is an interior spouting system that the water [from the roof] runs down.” Commissioner John Love added, “[Water] goes into an internal drain running inside the building. It flows into the footer drain, into the foundation.” Lammars then continued, “We don’t know the condition of that, or the potential cost to repair or replace. Discussions have been ongoing since January. We have heard various numbers, but we don’t have anything on that as of yet.”

Should repairs prove necessary, additional renovations may be considered as well. This could include refurbishment of the elevator, at a currently estimated cost of $150,000; and restoration work to the exterior walls of the building.

In relation to the leaks, as well as its potential as a fire hazard, Judge Basinger has requested that the commission pass a resolution to remove the files stored in the courthouse’s fourth floor by a certain date. Commissioner Vincent Schroeder has also recommended the files be sorted and labeled prior to removal to a more appropriate site to make for more efficient research when the information may be needed, and to identify files that could possible be destroyed.

A tour of the fourth floor conducted by Love revealed several files from multiple departments, some of which date back to the late 1800s. It is currently not well known which files are required to be maintained by the county in perpetuity.