Ethan Steinquest/Macon County Times Bill Walter, a building restoration consultant with Masonry Restoration Technologies and Services (MRTS), discusses structural issues he found after two visits to the Macon County Court House.

Ethan Steinquest/Macon County Times

Bill Walter, a building restoration consultant with Masonry Restoration Technologies and Services (MRTS), discusses structural issues he found after two visits to the Macon County Court House.

The Macon County Commission discussed plans to repair the courthouse amid concerns regarding water damage, asbestos, lead paint and more at its meeting held on Monday evening.

Bill Walter, a building restoration consultant with Masonry Restoration Technologies and Services (MRTS), spoke to the commission and estimated costs between $315,400 and $363,100 for a project that could begin by the end of the summer.

"We want to take a good hard look at all the fabric and materials that make up the outside of your building," Walter said, noting that water has penetrated and damaged the structure over time. "To see exactly the extent of the problem and what it would take to repair and preserve it so it will stay in good condition for years to come."

Although Walter said the exterior was the most pressing issue with the building, he emphasized other findings, including the presence of asbestos and lead paint and removing unused boiler equipment from the basement.

"We have some issues with asbestos," Walter said. "We want to come in and specify a contractor to remove (the floor tile), remove the adhesive, which also contains asbestos and open up some options ... as far as what type of surface we put back down."

Lowering the ceilings and installing new drop-ceiling systems were also discussed.

"The energy savings from bringing a 14-foot ceiling down to a manageable height (would be noticeable)," Walter said. "Even if we come down below the top of the windows, we can provide a sculpture that would allow the windows to remain ... yet the drop ceiling would nicely profile around it."

At its next meeting, the commission will vote on whether to maintain MRTS services regarding the courthouse.

If the item is approved, MRTS will complete a site investigation to prepare specifications and bid documents, in addition to managing the construction process, for $29,229.55.

Walter presented an informational packet for commissioners to review with a "shopping list" of construction options they can choose from based on his initial investigation.

"You're going to have to do something one of these days about the outside of the courthouse and inside of the walls whether you want to or not," Macon County Mayor Steve Jones said. "This building is in too good of shape to do away with ... but it's got problems. If you don't do anything and somebody gets hurt when something falls of the building, you're liable for it either way but not as liable as you would be (if you'd done the work)."

Jones also proposed installing a fire alarm system in the courthouse for $9,028 and said there is money in the county's budget to purchase it without a payment plan.

"Folks, if we don't do something and this courthouse burns down, we're going to look kind of foolish," Jones said. "People leave (this building) after 4 p.m. We need some kind of monitor system to make sure this building is taken care of."

Commissioner Jeff Hughes asked if the system would need to be removed and replaced during any courthouse repairs, and Jones said that he is looking into a wireless setup to avoid that problem

"With everything that is at that building, I'd hate for it to catch on fire," commissioner Justin Dyer said. "And we wouldn't know until somebody found out and called. It's a good place. I drive by and see the cars parked out there, and I think a whole lot about it."

The Macon County Commission's next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on April 15 at the Macon County Court House.