PUTNAM COUNTY — Renovations to the roof and exterior of the heart of Putnam County’s seat of government began the week of July 15, as all who visit the courthouse have certainly noticed. The western entrance is currently closed, with all traffic now entering through the north. Eventually, that northern entrance will be closed permanently, and the current wheelchair ramp removed. The western entrance, with a newly built ramp, will then serve as the sole entryway. Additionally, the clay tile roof is being completely replaced, and new drainage infrastructure added.

Tim Schnipke, Maintenance Superintendent for the county courthouse, and the person who likely knows the building far better than most anyone, provided a brief update on how renovations are coming along.

“Actually, I think the work is coming along very well,” he says. “We got started a little later than we wanted to, but with the wet spring and with construction, that’s just how it works. I believe the rain set everybody back.”

Even with early delays, Mr. Schnipke says the work is about where expected, saying, “I would say they’re pretty much on schedule for where they wanted to be. I would say the roofers, the Wellman Brothers, they’re doing an excellent job on the tile roof. Trisco, which is doing the exterior, the tuckpointing, and the cleaning and powerwashing, they’ve got a full crew there. I believe right now, things are pretty much where we expected them to be.”

“With Wellman Brothers, with the roof, they’re starting on the eastside of the courthouse, and about half the north. Once the eastside is done, they’re going to reset their scaffolding. They’ll finish the north and move to the west.”

“They are actually trying to get out of the way [on the westside]. Because that’s where we have to take the old handicap ramp out, and put the new handicap ramp in. That will give Schimmoeller Construction time to come-in. The third or fourth week of August is when they hope to come-in to start on the steps, the handicap ramp, and everything else.”

“Trisco, with the exterior, they started mid-way through on the northside. They’ve moved to the west already. Their goal is to stay in front of Wellman’s, so that they can keep right on working too. Right now, that’s all falling into place pretty well.”

“We kept the interior gutter on the clay tile roof, in keeping with how the courthouse was built, but the gutter caused issues. That’s where a lot of the leakage was. Wellman Brothers decided that we needed additional downspouts, on the inside of the building we call them drops.”

“It took a little bit to get those figured out, how to drill them into the building. But, they got that accomplished, and they’re actually back to right where they want to be on that.”

“It’s a serious hole. It’s a six inch hole added into the building through about 21-22 inches of block, brick, mortar and concrete. It’s actually pretty impressive to see them do it.”

This does sound impressive, but the question always remains, are the county taxpayers getting their money’s worth with the courthouse renovations?

“I do believe, yes,” Mr. Schnipke answers. “When we’re done, the building should be ready for the next, well, the first tile roof lasted for well over a hundred years. The exterior should be good for, I’m going to say, 25 plus [years]. It’s like any type of block or brick exterior, it needs maintenance over time.”

“The steps and ramp, that will be a huge improvement. The state and feds want all the courthouses down to one entrance, and this will make it very feasible for us to do that.”

“The commissioners have been phenomenal,” he adds. “These and the past commissioners. They laid the money back to do this. They’re not asking the taxpayers for a levy or anything. They’ve got the money there to do it.”