Blair moves step closer to lawyers lobby repairs

Architect directed to complete design of courthouse project

HOLLIDAYSBURG — Blair County commissioners have taken another step toward renovating a second-floor courthouse lobby that will be paid for by $136,600 from county bond funds and an $80,000 state grant.

Commissioners agreed Tuesday that architect David Albright should move ahead with design work for the proposed project that will be under regular review by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, which awarded the grant in June.

As proposed, the project is expected to address plaster, woodwork and other materials damaged by longtime water leaks into what’s referred to as the lawyers lobby located between courtrooms 1 and 2 in the older portion of the courthouse.

After making exterior repairs to stop the leaks, the plaster began to dry and crumble, prompting county maintenance crews to build catch boxes near portions of the lobby ceiling and to close that lobby to the public.

Albright, who attended Tuesday’s commissioners meeting, said the cost of his design work was already figured into the project’s $216,600 estimated cost. The cost was calculated previously so it could be submitted to the state when the county asked for the grant. While the county applied for a maximum grant of $100,000, the state awarded $80,000, which the county is required to match.

Commissioners, when considering the grant application earlier this year, pledged to use 2014 bond issue funds toward the project.

The 2017 bond issue that is under development also includes $17,000 for this project.

Commissioner Terry Tomassetti said Tuesday that he has been in contact with the historical commission personnel and advised commissioners Bruce Erb and Ted Beam Jr. that the grant funds remain available.

Commissioners also reviewed a project schedule calling for design work to be submitted by Dec. 1 and for quarterly reports to be submitted thereafter, along with photographs of the progress.

Albright also advised commissioners that part of the project involves electrical work and removal of a heating, ventilating and air conditioning unit from the Union Street side of the lobby. Commissioners acknowledged that those efforts will have to be advertised for bid.

The proposed renovations also call for new carpeting, a less expensive alternative to a ceramic floor that would have been installed when that portion of the courthouse was built.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.