Historic Sullivan courthouse roof in need of repairs

J. H. Osborne • Dec 31, 2012 at 9:56 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — The roof of the historic Sullivan County Courthouse needs more repairs, Administrator of County Buildings Claude Smith said last week.

Smith told members of the Sullivan County Commission’s Building Committee he isn’t seeking any new funding for the work, but just wanted to keep them abreast of ongoing projects.

Smith said the county hopes to add the needed repairs to FEMA-funded work completed at other county-owned buildings due to hail damage in the spring.

Two months ago Smith said he was about to get workers started on putting new flooring in County Mayor Steve Godsey’s corner office on the second floor of the historic courthouse.

At that time, Smith told the Times-News that new laminate would be installed in Godsey’s office to replace worn carpeting.

Smith said at that time that a leak in the courthouse’s recessed guttering also would be repaired before the new flooring is installed. But, Smith said, the leak wasn’t the reason for the new flooring.

That leak, in a joint in guttering on the courthouse roof over Godsey’s office, had been blamed for allowing water to run around window frames and into the outer wall, Smith said.

That guttering was installed at the same time as a new roof a few years ago, which still is under warranty, Smith said.

But the gutter leak ended up not being the culprit in the leaking, Smith said last week — and, now, Smith said the courthouse under-flooring has in fact been damaged.

Smith said the damage is so extensive that the fiberboard under courthouse carpeting is so flaked it can just be swept up.

Smith said the source of the damaging water leak has now been identified as age, wear and damage on a three-foot section of flat metal roof that rims much of the courthouse, just below where the main, peaked roof terminates. That section caps the exterior walls, Smith said — and nothing has been done to that flat area since the courthouse was built.

Smith said it is pock-marked with hail damage, is missing sealant in grooves in the metal, and some of the problem may have been caused by workers walking on it while installing the new peaked-roof section a few years ago.

According to the county’s budget document, $155,500 is in the current budget for the courthouse renovation fund — $40,930 for contracted services and $114,570 for capital outlay.

In a long and at times contentious budget development process earlier this year — which culminated in the first increase in the county property tax in several years (20 cents per $100 of assessed value) — the Sullivan County Commission eliminated capital funding for most departmental accounts.

When that budget development process first began, Smith initially sought a $258,000 increase in capital funding for the courthouse renovation account — including $40,000 for “roof repair ... build flat roof up” and another $30,000 for “new flooring for halls and foyers.”

In subsequent discussions that request was dropped.

Godsey revamped his office — new furniture and new carpeting — as well as the County Commission’s meeting room, after first taking office six years ago.

The county’s accounting department also will be getting the new laminate in place of current carpeting, Smith said in October — as well as the county clerk’s office and certain areas of the Blountville Justice Center, where some flooring already has been installed.

Smith said the county got an excellent deal on the laminate flooring, getting it at closeout pricing during last fiscal year.

Public records on file with the county purchasing office show the county paid Southeastern Salvage $13,072.60 for 8,247.9 square feet of laminate flooring earlier this year.

County maintenance workers will install the new flooring, office by office, as time permits, Smith said.

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