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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Courthouse boilers can't keep up with extreme cold

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The coldest day in two years could not have come at a worse time for Putnam County Courthouse workers.

With the mercury hovering somewhere in the neighborhood of 7 degrees, county employees arrived to a building with neither of its two boilers working.

Head custodian Brian Smith told the Putnam County Commissioners at their Tuesday evening meeting that one of the boilers has not been working for about a year now.

The other unit went down at some point over the long weekend. Although maintenance workers got it operational Tuesday morning, the single boiler struggled all day to keep up with the building's heating needs.

Auditor Lorie Hallett said workers in her office wore gloves until noon.

Even by the start of the 4:30 p.m. meeting, temperatures in the Commissioners Courtroom hovered somewhere south of comfortable.

Smith said keeping the heating units operational has been an ongoing problem for the county, with maintenance supervisor Tom Gilson and workers from A. A. Huber & Sons struggling to keep them running in recent years.

"They're very efficient when they work, but there's a lot of trouble with them," Smith said.

There was some debate over the exact age of the units during the meeting. However, a Banner Graphic story dated Dec. 19, 2006 puts the purchase date at either late 2006 or early 2007.

The commissioners agreed to purchase two units from Duraflo Equipment Co., Indianapolis, during the Dec. 18, 2006 meeting.

Smith said the last time Huber worked on the boilers, workers suggested a $1,500 regulator as a possible solution, but were unsure if the part would fix the problem.

The custodian further stated that even if the current problem is addressed, it only typifies a deeper problem with the building's heating and air system.

The chillers are a problem, as is the ductwork.

"When you get right down to it, the heating and air system in the whole courthouse needs replaced," Smith said.

Pressed for a cost estimate of a whole new system by Commissioner Nancy Fogle, Smith said it would take a minimum of $100,000.

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My suggestion is that the County Commissioners establish a "Putnam County Building Replacement, Repair and Maintenace Fund" for buildings owned by Putnam County.

Rather than using a band-aid approach by issuing a bond when the need for a new facility or major equipment needs replaced, the commissioners should anticipate future needs and establish a fund which over time would build up a balance for these expenditures.

-- Posted by Lookout on Thu, Jan 24, 2013, at 9:40 AM

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