Year in Review 2021

Year in Review 2021: Logan County Courthouse restoration begins

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[January 04, 2022]   As 2021 began, plans for the Logan County Courthouse restoration were in full swing. Specifications and designs were being completed and scaffolding was placed around the dome and cupola in preparation for repairs.

In March, Building & Grounds Chairman David Blankenship updated the board on the budget and scope of work in process.

A subcommittee, the Construction Technical Committee (a.k.a the Tech Committee) is overseeing the project. The committee rejected the initial budget proposed by the design engineering company CTS due to high costs.

The Tech Committee decided Bill Walter of MRTS should take over that scope of work and project bidding, shifting the dome and construction management from CTS to MRTS. This recommendation came from the Construction Technical Committee because MRTS has more experience than CTS in this area and would reduce costs.

Blankenship said he was more comfortable with MRTS overseeing the contractors because of Mr. Walter’s years of experience. CTS will still oversee the performance contract side related to HVAC and energy savings. CTS would also still design the performance contract and construction management design contract.

During the February Workshop, Blankenship had said CTS does phenomenal design work. The individuals from CTS have strong architectural and engineering backgrounds.

March 15, 2021 -
Logan County Briefs: Courthouse restoration design and bidding plans a top priority

By spring, they were able to open the third-floor courtroom that had to be closed after tiles fell in May 2019. When that happened, the sound system also had to be removed. A new sound system was reinstalled by Lincolnland Communications this spring.

Judge Jonathan Wright asked for approval for the system, he wanted to ensure everything was installed in conjunction with the restoration. Blankenship said the hard wiring should work with the restoration.

On April 12th, 2021, a large crane began moving beams up to the roof of the courthouse. A review of the scaffolding shoring space by Bill Walter of MRTS showed inadequate beams in the attic.

Upon further investigation Walter found the load bearing characteristics in one-fourth of the attic were inadequate. New base shoring designs were incorporated into the design to compensate for the insufficiencies and make everything safer from a structural standpoint and for personnel.

April 16, 2021 -
New steel beams hoisted to Logan County Courthouse rooftop

In May, geothermal test boring was done to see how many boreholes needed to be put in around the courthouse lawn. This testing would help show whether geothermal heating and cooling might work for the courthouse.

Logan County Board briefs:
Logan County Courthouse renovations and other matters

By summer, the scaffolding reached the cupola and the top of the dome. Scaffolding surrounded the dome on all sides and was supported by high beams at this point.

June - Logan County Courthouse dome structural preparations to do restoration near completion

July – Latest Logan County Courthouse restoration, treasurer’s drop boxes and Scully Park fountain plans

In August, the board heard from Gil Bucio and Michelle James of CTS.

After going through an assessment process and getting feedback from the Construction Technical Committee, CTS is recommending a geothermal system. It would include a geothermal heat pump system with well field and dedicated outdoor air system (DOAS) Units. Pipes underneath the ground will transfer heat in the winter and cool air in the summer. Blankenship said it is just one of the options being considered.

The DOAS will be in the basement to provide better access for equipment maintenance. Most of the current boiler system will be kept in place in the basement, but one steam boiler will be removed, and the second boiler would be used for supplemental heat.

August 10, 2021 – Geothermal heating in preliminary design and specifications for Logan County Courthouse renovation

As of September, work has begun on the cupola on top of the dome. As they have begun digging into the cupola, Walter said a lot of the fiberglass has been removed exposing the copper underneath. To restore the cupola, Walter was now looking at two options. He considered whether to remove the entire cupola somewhat intact or leave the cupola in place as it is restored.

That month, Walter and Blankenship had their first meeting with the transition committee, which is made up of county employees. This committee will be taking care of relocations, storage, IT and anything that keeps the customer service portion of the courthouse going.

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With good communication from the committee, Blankenship felt the meeting went well. He said Logan County State’s Attorney Hauge did a good job heading up the transition committee.

From Walter’s perspective, “everyone [was] on the same sheet of music” as far as plans go. They set the groundwork for what they want to accomplish.

The transition committee will look over maps and floorplans and Walter will listen to everyone's questions, comments or concerns. Through Hauge, Walter had sent everyone a list of potential questions for the committee to consider when responding and providing their own department input. The transition committee will also be considering inside needs and the retrofitting of the courthouse.

As the transition committee figures out the best use of space, Blankenship said they will discuss possibly consolidating offices and making space for the public defender. He said they will continue discussing how to consolidate spaces, how to manage the space they have and how to place everyone.

September 9, 2021–Logan County Courthouse restoration: Cupola issues and restoration specifications, transition plans rolling to keep business as usual

In October Walter gave more updates on plans for the cupola repair; his original plan was to assess the cupola from the inside and outside and perhaps remove it from the dome. Repairs would have been made on the ground or at a site different from the courthouse. Walter found the cupola to be in good shape from a structural standpoint. He also found the cupola’s steel ribs were attached to the dome’s steel structure and were in fairly good condition. Walter discovered the copper skin has suffered the most and is in need of significant attention and repair.

In evaluating the cupola Walter decided it was better to leave it in place to restore it. Removing the cupola and putting it back would do more structural damage.

Walter told the board he expected to get three proposals from contractors for work on the cupola and had heard from another contractor who expressed interest in the project. He was tentatively planning to have the same contractor for working on both the cupola and the dome.

Walter said the contractor needs to have the capacity to perform work on the dome. If for some reason during the work on the cupola the contractor shows himself not to be to the county’s liking, Walter said they could use a different contractor for the dome.

October 7, 2021–Logan County Courthouse dome cupola to remain in place for restoration process; bid process underway

By November the construction tech committee was reviewing several documents including the performance contract which covers HVAC and associated trades. A question-and-answer session was then held with document preparers and included Walter, Blankenship, CTS, the tech committee, and architects. It included responses from the tech committee and MRTS on what had been reviewed so far.

Construction management documents were also nearing completion and ready for review by the tech committee. Due to issues raised by the tech committee, Walter said some adjustments may be needed on the performance contract.

Walter also provided updates on contracts and designs.

The design blueprints contain over 120 pages detailing the layout of the HVAC system and associated components. Walter said the blueprints show where and how the system is going to be placed and demolition sheets show what is going to be removed in the existing system.

The specification and bid documents are over 500 pages and include electrical, plumbing and associated trades that support the HVAC system

November 5, 2021 -Logan County Courthouse restoration and park updates

As of December, CTS had presented their proposal, but project manager Bill Walter said he and the tech committee wanted to see value engineering for portions of it. Value engineering would reduce the amount of the potential contract. After a few areas are tweaked, the contract may be initiated in January.

Toward the end of December, they began tearing down some of the scaffolding around the cupola with a plan to wrap the cupola encapsulating it in plastic to create an enclosure. Encapsulation was expected to take two to three weeks depending on the weather. Once encapsulation is done work would begin on the cupola removing old copper and putting up new copper and molding.

[Angela Reiners]

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