BLOUNTVILLE - The historic Sullivan County Courthouse needs a new roof - but damage from leaks must be repaired first to make sure workers can climb on the building without fear of a collapse.
Claude Smith, construction project manager for the county, says leaks have been repaired but have left timbers in the roof - especially out over the front portico - "in pretty bad shape."
He said a new roof is needed - he suggested metal, perhaps to look like copper - and that the building's weight now is sitting on window sashes.
"We need to fix the lentils first," Smith said Thursday. "The roof won't hold you."
County Purchasing Agent Nelda Fleenor said her office has sought preliminary consultations from local contractors for repairs to the courthouse's east end because of damage from leaks around windows.
Fleenor has in the past said it's harder to get bids for work on historic structures.
"Nobody wanted to do the work," she said of her initial attempt to get work started on the courthouse repairs.
Eventually, she said, Burwil Construction submitted a bid of $28,900 to remove and replace material damaged by the leaks - but that figure does not include replacing rafters or shingles, so it could be more once the work begins.
Fleenor said there is money in the courthouse renovation account to cover the $29,000.
She and Smith were speaking with members of the Sullivan County Commission's Building Committee.
In other business, the group heard an update on a planned expansion of the Sullivan County Regional Health Department's Children's Dental Clinic program.
The clinic stays booked about three months in advance and sometimes it takes days for its patients to secure even an emergency visit, SCRHD Director Gary Mayes said.
The Sullivan County Commission approved funding in this year's budget to expand the program by adding more personnel and more space.
Mayes said the additional funding - about $183,000 - will add a chair to the dental clinic's Blountville location, and for the first time place two chairs at the health department's Kingsport office at Wilcox Drive and East Sullivan Street.
The health department's dental program serves patients up to but not including the age of 21. The clinic accepts TennCare and those paying cash at the time of service.
The building committee also approved spending $43,000 - already in the health department's budget - to redesign the reception areas of the Blountville offices of the health department.
For more information about the Sullivan County Regional Health Department and its programs visit www.sullivanhealth.org.