Board okays courthouse repairs

By Keith Strange

August 20, 2014

DOBSON — Interested contractors may soon be bidding on a half-million-dollar construction project on the historic Dobson courthouse.

Following a brief update on needed repairs to the courthouse, the Surry County Board of Commissioners gave the nod to funding four needed improvements to the building.

County Facilities Director Don Mitchell told the board during the meeting that his department had been in the process of having the courthouse assessed by Pilot Mountain-based Brite Engineering.

“We have had several discussions in the past few months about problems at the historic courthouse,” Mitchell wrote in a letter to the board. “The existing roof is nearly 40 years old and needs to be repaired. The masonry joints have deteriorated over the years and need to be re-pointed. The entire building above ground needs waterproofing applied and the north and south entrances need to be temporarily braced until permanent repairs can be made.”

Mitchell told the board that the estimated cost to re-roof the building is $300,000, while the costs to repair the entrances is expected to run around $100,000. Another $100,000 is expected to be spent on masonry work and waterproofing.

Mitchell said earlier that the problems with the entrances worry him the most.

“There has been some deterioration of the heavy granite that make up the steps going into the building. It’s cracked over the years and there has been water getting into the cracks freezing and thawing, so it needs to be shored up to ensure there’s no danger to the public,” he said.

He called the problems with the roof the “biggest issue.”

“It’s probably about 40 years old and it’s really outlived its expected life span,” he said. “The roof is made of a rubber membrane and that is covered with small pebbles. It’s so old it leaks in places and has been patched numerous times. It’s just time to put a roof on it.”

The facilities director told the board that the engineering firm would be willing to provide design and construction management services for a cost of $36,750, a move the board said is prudent.

“I personally think these are things to do because we need to have a firm on hand to ensure we’re on sound legal and safety footing,” board Chair Eddie Harris said.

Mitchell said county Finance Director Betty Taylor said the funds for the repairs could be allocated out of the county’s existing fund balance.

Commissioner Paul Johnson said it was time to take action.

“We’ve been talking about this for six months and now we’re down to brass tacks because we know what we need,” he said. “I’d like to make a motion to let this proceed to bid so we can get this fixed.”

The motion was seconded by Commissioner Jimmy Miller and passed unanimously.

The project could be ready to go to bid within the next couple of months, Mitchell said.

Keith Strange can be reached at 336-415-4698 or via Twitter @strangereporter.