published Monday, February 21st, 2011

Polk County to pursue building repair projects

By Paul Leach/Correspondent
  • photo
    Contributed photo This image from the Polk County Sheriff's Office shows an eroded heater module, less than four years old, in the county justice center.

BENTON, Tenn. — Polk County's courthouse and justice center require repairs for problems ranging from eroding pipes to bulging bricks, officials said.

The good news is the county has received nearly $27,000 — and probably will receive $3,000 more — as part of an insurance recovery for a recent boiler breakdown at the courthouse, County Executive Hoyt Firestone said.

The county spent $35,000 on a new boiler.

The County Commission approved Firestone's recommendation to put the settlement money into the county's litigation fee fund, which is reserved for courthouse and justice center repairs, and paid for the new boiler. The money could have been placed in the general fund instead.

"There it loses its identity," Firestone said. "You can bring it back out, but it gets tangled up with all the other excess funds we have in the general fund."

The revitalized litigation fund, reduced to $23,000 after the boiler expenditure, may come in handy in light of the requested fixes for the courthouse and justice center.

Both have their share of water problems. Courthouse plumbing and flush valves suffer from calcification, Firestone said.

The new justice center has replaced four heater modules within its two industrial-sized water heaters in less than four years. The modules, essentially man-sized heating elements of copper tubing, appeared to be in poor shape in photographs taken by sheriff's office personnel and shown to the building committee.

New heater modules for the justice center will cost $5,000 plus installation fees, covered by warranty until now, officials said.

A sampling of justice center water revealed it was mineral heavy but safe to drink, Firestone said. Water-softening filtration would be required to alleviate the calcification caused by the hard water in the facility's hot water system, he said.

Commissioner Isaac Bramblett also recommended the addition of handrails to the outside courthouse steps and repairs to sections of exterior brick damaged by rainwater seepage. He considered both to be safety issues.

The courthouse also needs an overhaul on its windows, Bramblett said, stating energy efficiency concerns.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. E-mail him at

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