Mt. Vernon Register-News

March 25, 2014

Board debates renovations

By TRAVIS MORSE travis.morse@register-news.com
The Register-News

---- — MT. VERNON — Jefferson County Board member Jim Laird Monday called for the county to hire someone to oversee the courthouse and its ongoing need for renovations.

No action was taken by the board regarding Laird’s suggestion. However, his comments sparked an engaging discussion on the courthouse issue at Monday night’s County Board meeting.

“I think that we’re going to have to get our heads together, decide what actually has to be done,” Laird said. “I think we need somebody in control of this courthouse.”

Laird made his remarks early on at Monday’s meeting, during the portion of the session reserved for board member comments. He said his comments were intended to be “food for thought.”

A county referendum seeking a tax increase of 0.25 percent for courthouse renovations was voted down in last week’s primary election.

The referendum was not mentioned during Monday night’s discussion. Even so, board members touched on a number of issues related to courthouse renovations.

Laird suggested the county hire someone “from outside” to oversee the courthouse. Other board members pointed out that County Sheriff Roger Mulch is considered the courthouse custodian by state statute.

Mulch entered the debate Monday after Laird made the remark, “it’s not working.”

Mulch said he and other sheriffs before him have repeatedly addressed the County Board about courthouse maintenance issues.

“What we have now is working, it’s just nothing’s being done about it,” Mulch said. “That’s my point.”

Laird said the water leaks at the courthouse seem to be the most serious issue. He also brought up a recent expenditure of $3,000 to make repairs to the roof and questioned whether it had any effect.

Mulch said he has been informed that the roof has been repaired and that joints and cracks have been sealed. Wall leaks were also brought up during the discussion.

“Did they take care of all the leaks? I’m not sure,” Mulch said. “Without them doing the whole roof, I don’t know how you’re ever going to stop the leaks.”

County Board Vice Chairman Don Rector said leaks have been an issue at the courthouse at least since 1990.

“We put a new roof on, we’ve done the tuck pointing, and every time it comes a blowing rain from the west it leaks,” Rector said.

Also on Monday, the County Board approved changes to the committee chairman assignments.

John Keele, the current Fiscal Committee chairman, was reassigned to be chairman of the Technology Committee. Also, the current chairman of the Technology Committee, Robert Watt, was reassigned as chairman of the Fiscal Committee.

A specific reason for the changes was not cited at Monday’s meeting.

Other board actions Monday included:

n Discussion of pursuing a website advertising plan that could be a revenue source for the county.

n Approval of a mutual aid agreement with ILEAS.

n Approval of an updated policy against harassment and sexual misconduct.