Last updated: July 18. 2014 6:40PM - 221 Views
By Keith Strange kstrange@civitasmedia.com

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DOBSON — An update on needed improvements to the historic Dobson courthouse tops the agenda when the Surry County Board of Commissioners meet Monday night.

The county has been in the process of having the building assessed, and during the meeting county Facilities Director Don Mitchell is expected to update the board on what has been discovered.

“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 said the estimated costs to make the repairs could be as high as $500,000.

He 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.

But 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.”

Mitchell said he doesn’t believe the repairs will cause many headaches for workers in the building, which houses things like the district attorney’s office, juvenile justice and probation departments.

“We think we can do this without relocating workers,” he said. “We may have to close one side or the other off for a little while, but I’m planning on this work being done without having to vacate the building.”

The facilities director said all efforts will be made to maintain the historic nature of the building, which was built around 1916.

“When you get that old, you do need a little patchwork once in a while, but anything we do we will be doing with an eye toward not changing the appearance or historic nature of the building,” Mitchell said.

In other business, the board is set to hold a public hearing on a proposal to reclassify a 2.2 acre parcel from rural agricultural to general highway business.

The proposal to rezone the property, located on U.S. 21 in State Road, has been proffered by owner Charles D. Evans.

County Planner Kim Bates said the planning board saw no problem with the rezoning.

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

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