County looking at Dobson courthouse

By Keith Strange

March 24, 2014

DOBSON — Faced with a needed six-figure roof replacement, county officials have called in a second engineer to give the historic Dobson Courthouse a look-see.

The move comes after county facilities personnel determined that the roof of the courthouse, which overlooks Dobson Square, will need replacement soon.

“We know that it’s going to need a new roof in the next year of so, and decided that with that facing us we wanted to get a structural engineer in there to look at the building from the foundation up,” said county Facilities Director Don Mitchell.

The courthouse was built in 1916, Mitchell noted.

“Like anything else, after that many years there are things that need to be looked at,” he said, noting that the board of commissioners okayed the engineer, who recently conducted a walk-through of the building to determine whether in-depth analysis of any potential defects are necessary.

The department is now awaiting a report from the initial study, Mitchell noted.

“We haven’t received the results of the first assessment,” he said. “In fact, we’re looking at getting another engineer in to look at the building as well because we always want to get a second opinion.”

With the age of the building, Mitchell suggested it is only prudent to give it a once-over prior to replacing the roof.

“We want to make sure it’s good,” he said. “We don’t want to go in and ask for money for a new roof and then find out there are more serious problems.”

Contrary to some rumors, nothing serious has been discovered at this point, Mitchell noted, other than a potential risk associated with a granite chimney cap.

“After the first engineer looked at it, a chimney cap on the northeast corner of the building was taken off at the recommendation of the engineer,” he said. “It was being held up by four posts and if one of those was bad it could have fallen. It weighed around 2,000 pounds.”

Mitchell said there is no time frame on any repairs at this point.

“We know there is going to be work that has to be done, but that goes back to the age of the building,” he said. “Other than removing the chimney cap, we’re still waiting to get information together before we know whether there are any more issues.”

Mitchell said the historic nature of the building dictates forethought before taking any action.

“We will have certain guidelines that we will have to meet to maintain the historic aspect to the building,” he said. “Any repairs will have to take the historic nature in the building into account.

“When you think of Dobson Square, you think of the courthouse,” Mitchell added. “If any repairs do have to be made, we want to make sure they’re done properly, and the last thing I want to do is go before the board (of commissioners) and tell them about a major issue and them not have some advance warning.”

Keith Strange can be reached at 336-719-1929 or via Twitter @strangereporter.