published Sunday, April 1st, 2012

Sequatchie County moves to repair its damaged fair building roof

The Sequatchie County Fair building in Dunlap, Tenn., is riddled with roof leaks and suffering increasingly from water damage, says fair advisor Karen Marshall. She points to makeshift repairs where fair signs and election billboards replace damaged ceiling tiles.
The Sequatchie County Fair building in Dunlap, Tenn., is riddled with roof leaks and suffering increasingly from water damage, says fair advisor Karen Marshall. She points to makeshift repairs where fair signs and election billboards replace damaged ceiling tiles.
Photo by Ben Benton.

FOR MORE INFORMATION


Company officials interested in bidding on roof repairs at the Sequatchie County Fair building should call the Sequatchie County Executive's Office at 423-949-3479. The bid deadline is 10 a.m. CDT on April 13.

DUNLAP, Tenn. -- As Sequatchie County officials study a new roof for the Sequatchie County Fair building, fair adviser Karen Marshall narrows her eyes at the rain-darkened clouds bearing down on the facility's leaky roof Friday.

Marshall guesses there are at least 25 roof leaks in the building -- part of the structure originally built as Sequatchie County Elementary School -- and the leaks are growing worse since they started three years ago.

Temporary fixes only made some holes so big that birds coming in through them are a new problem, she said. Many of the ceiling tiles are so damaged, they've been replaced with makeshift fixes such as political election and county fair signs that workers discovered fit nicely into the old ceiling grid.

Ray Hobbs, chairman of the County Commission's Building and Grounds Committee, said a solution must be found before damage outruns the county's ability to fix it.

The last repair estimate on just the gymnasium portion of the fair building stood at about $42,000, though he speculated the rest of the repairs over the exhibit rooms and fair offices would come to less than that.

"It's major undertaking for the county, but something's got to be done with it," he said.

Throughout the county fair's portion of the building, plastic tablecloths, a tent, bags and makeshift tarps protect fair equipment and displays. Rainwater pours through the roof into dozens of 55-gallon garbage cans, buckets and storage containers.

"It's bad when you have to roll your pants legs up when you go get a can of pickles," Marshall says with a laugh.

But the smile slips when she starts looking at the leaks.

Floor tiles in the gymnasium are a patchwork of colors where volunteers and county inmates made repairs over the years, but the damage remains, and tiles keep popping loose with the nonstop moisture, Marshall said. Anything displayed inside runs about the same chance of getting wet as if it were outdoors, she said.

While fair officials and volunteers do most upkeep and repair work, major problems must come before the County Commission, officials said.

The repair project will be put out for bids next week with a bid deadline coming just before the County Commission's next meeting on April 16, Hobbs said.

The county might end up borrowing money to fix the building, but an investment in proper repairs will help keep problems from resurfacing year after year, he said.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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