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County seeking funds for repairs

The Blair County Courthouse restoration project is a monumental multi-year repair and improvement project to address numerous inter-related exterior and interior problems.

The priorities of the work to date have been correcting dangerous conditions that threaten public safety and stopping masonry deterioration and the three major sources of water infiltration. The list of repairs continues to grow with unexpected problems discovered in each new phase of work.

As for the building’s interior, there is a great need for efficiency-based alterations to the courtrooms and staff areas. Additionally, the walls and ceilings of second floor courtrooms and connecting common area, which was the original Law Library, have significant holes, stains and crumbling plaster, all caused by the water infiltration.

In particular, Courtroom 2 can only be described as “a disgrace” in terms of both look and utility and is in need of immediate attention. By any objective standard, Courtroom 2 is an embarrassment to Blair County and, in particular, the importance of the administration of justice in our county.

All of this takes money and that is why the Courthouse Preservation Oversight Team recently organized a legislators’ tour of the front towers to introduce them to the scope and challenges of the restoration project and to request their assistance in obtaining state funding.

Accompanied by our contractors and county staff, Sen. John H. Eichelberger Jr., Rep. Judy Ward and a staff member of Rep. John McGinnis had the opportunity via the scaffolding to observe firsthand completed work plus many areas of concern. These included the dangerously poor condition of the Courtroom 2 windows, the displacement of the Courtroom 2 gutter masonry and the facade gusset drainage work, which will address the last major water infiltration source at the front of the courthouse.

Hopefully, together with our legislators’ help, we will be able to access government funds to assist in the completion of this much-needed project.

Terry Tomassetti

Blair County Commissioner

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