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Thursday, Apr. 24, 2014

Annex closure a possibility?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

(Photo)
Built in 1954, Jones School has been the site of Putnam County's courthouse annex since 2002. The closure of the annex is now possible, as the building struggles to keep up with the county's utility and infrastructure needs.
When the subject of budget cuts came up at Monday's Putnam County Commissioners meeting, President Gene Beck tossed out a big idea.

"If we can figure out somewhere to put the Extension Office, I think we ought to close the (Courthouse) Annex," Beck said.

The annex, in the old Jones School building at 209 W. Liberty St., has housed county offices since 2002.

However, the aging property has become something of an albatross to the county in an age of rising fuel prices and shrinking budgets.

"Last year we spent almost $50,000 on that annex with heating, air conditioning and general maintenance," Beck said.

Jones was built in 1954 and has problems with heating, cooling, roofing, electricity, communications, water and insulation.

The building's extensive problems have led to discussions of building a new annex in recent years. Unfortunately, the same budget problems that could cause the building's closure do not allow for a viable replacement option.

While Beck mentioned the Purdue Cooperative Extension Office by name, abandoning the site would be more than that -- the building also houses the Veterans Affairs Office, Planning and Zoning, Emergency Management, the Health Department, Rural Transit, West Central Solid Waste, Red Cross and the commissioners' courtroom.

Beck proposed after moving the offices out, the building could continue to be used as storage, which would require only minimal utility costs.

Many other counties put their extension offices on the fairgrounds. Beck said he had discussed solutions with Extension Educator Mark Evans, but both men were at a loss for an immediate answer.

"I don't think they have any room at the fairgrounds, as far as a full time office," Beck said.

Another office that could be on the move is Title IV D Child Support. The office currently has space on the fourth floor of the courthouse, but it has become a safety concern. The plan to raise the courthouse's railings is currently on hold, so the number of children in and around the child support office is a worry to county officials.

The fourth floor's rails are even lower than those on the second and third floors.

The commissioners and Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter discussed the possibility of looking into open space on the first floor until a permanent solution to the railing heights can be found.

A request by Bookwalter to sign a service contract with 12 Point Telecom was put on hold until the commissioners can look into a contract for all county offices.

The consensus of all courthouse offices, as well as the sheriff's and highway departments, seems to be to go with 12 Point for phone and computer service contracts.

County highway co-superintendent had little to report to the commissioners, but thanked them for recently going to the county council for an additional $400,000 in road funds.

"We're starting to get more thank yous now than complaints," Smith said. "It all goes back to the commissioners stepping up to the plate and going to the council to ask for the money."

The next commissioners meeting will be at 4 p.m. Aug. 15 at the Putnam County Highway Department, a change from the normal time and place of the meeting.


Comments
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Sooner the Annex is closed,the better the county will be-it's a money pit.....

-- Posted by kubotafan on Wed, Aug 3, 2011, at 6:50 AM

Heres a idea, close the dinosaur and move all occupants to the Brand New Never Used White Elephant on the east side.

-- Posted by Trying hard on Wed, Aug 3, 2011, at 7:18 AM

Here we go again..............

-- Posted by jakesmom on Wed, Aug 3, 2011, at 9:13 AM

Move them to the Lo-Bill building.

-- Posted by localman on Wed, Aug 3, 2011, at 9:33 AM

Lo-Bill building would be a geat spot! Use what is out there and even with making changes it would be cheaper in the long run.

-- Posted by chicki1112 on Wed, Aug 3, 2011, at 10:11 AM

Main Street Greencastle has been stuck with the old opera house for 20 years and can't sell it and it is a money loser. What if the county took it over either buy it or a long term lease. Also, what is Jim Smith smoking??? Our road has some serious problems that have never been addressed.

-- Posted by albert on Wed, Aug 3, 2011, at 10:19 AM

I agree with trying hard. Use the building that we cant seem to lease, sell, or whatever the plan was. It has been sitting empty to long and is a brand new facilty, utillize it.

-- Posted by dcsaiht on Wed, Aug 3, 2011, at 3:08 PM

The county doesn't have a road called "our road",albert...

-- Posted by kubotafan on Wed, Aug 3, 2011, at 6:48 PM

A number of points need to be addressed in this article. Why is Gene Beck only concerned with the Extention Office and not the other county offices? The idea of using the "White Elephant" is not a good idea unless we want to bail-out the city for this boondoggle. I also doubt that any buildings currently being mentioned are in the price-range that the county can afford. As far as the county road system - I don't know of anyone that is "thanking" them for all of their work. Go out and drive some of these road that have been converted back to stone surfaces. I live in a neighborhood that has been neglected by the county for over 30 years and do not believe that any of my neighbors are thanking them. It's time that the county highway department dusts off the paving equipment that they own and put the highway department to work paving some of these neglected areas.

-- Posted by gunner on Thu, Aug 4, 2011, at 9:18 AM

gunner,it's obvious you don't work at highway so you don't hear the "thank you"coming from the other end of the phone line....

-- Posted by kubotafan on Thu, Aug 4, 2011, at 11:10 AM

Do those who have offices in this old school have any say in where they would like to be relocated to? What kind of items would be put in storage there? An empty building draws vandals.

-- Posted by dumpsterdiva2 on Fri, Aug 5, 2011, at 7:35 PM

I own the Lo Bills building and have posted a few times on this blog. The LO BIlls section is leased to a discount mall and the middle section is leased to a new tenant. The last 10,500 square feet is the only space available. It took 3 years but by September we hope to have it 100% leased.

-- Posted by jeff moe on Sat, Aug 6, 2011, at 8:36 AM

Part of the reason the county may not be hearing road complaints is that, at least in my case, they don't return calls. I'd be happy to give them some well deserved negative feedback.

-- Posted by David Worthington on Sun, Aug 7, 2011, at 11:00 AM


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