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Ceiling Repairs Underway in County Courthouse

Rick Wagner from EverGreene Displays Color Choices

Rick Wagner from EverGreene Displays Color Choices

Prowers County Commissioners, as well as Judge Stan Brinkley of the 15th Judicial District, viewed the new colors on third floor courtroom ceiling in the Prowers County Courthouse on Monday, October 10th.  Commissioners met with representatives of EverGreene Architectural Arts which was selected to restore the 1928 ceiling to its original colors, restore some materials that have flaked off the ceiling and coordinate a new color scheme for the four main walls of the courtroom.

Consultants View Ceiling work with Tom Grasmick

Consultants View Ceiling work with Tom Grasmick

When you enter the courtroom now, you’re likely to say to yourself, “Well, this is different!” And don’t bump your head or bark your shin, because there’s a myriad of scaffolding poles and planks holding up two levels of temporary flooring about 20 feet above the main courtroom floor.  They’re going to stay there until the project is complete, about the first week of November.  The additional flooring will be used by the artists and painters and allow them to have full access to the ceiling at one time instead of moving an elevated ramp from spot to spot as they progress in their restoration efforts.

scaffolding-courtroom-2

There is the expectation of colors naturally fading after almost 90 years, but water leaks from an earlier overhead HVAC venting system several years ago, caused some of the plaster to begin flaking off, dropping onto the visitors to the courtroom.  Apparently leaking water began to penetrate from the roof of the courthouse and from the new vent which started to damage the ceiling plaster long before it was observed.

Judge Stan Brinkley Observes Work in Progress

Judge Stan Brinkley Observes Work in Progress

Kirk Powers, Prowers County Building Operations Supervisor, said a new roof was put on the courthouse this past spring which stopped any leaking from the exterior of the building and the problems with water leaks from the vent was also remedied, but the damage had been done and needed to be repaired. “We installed new flashing and a new roof membrane which made the seal tight and dry and we check it every time we get some moisture.  That vent that was installed wasn’t flashed properly and it was leaking for about a year before we noticed there was any kind of a problem,” he explained.

Judge Brinkley, who has spent several decades in the courtroom, said court is now being held in the east room, “It’s smaller and sometimes we’ll also use the downstairs courtroom and we’ve made arrangements with the city to use their council meeting room if we should get the need for a jury trail between now and November,” he explained. Brinkley mentioned some of the other courtroom improvements such as new counsel tables, benches and rug, provided by individuals from the Department of Corrections.  The judge added that there have been improvements to the courtroom acoustics, but hearing a case from the rear seats can still be a problem because of the distance between the lawyers and the audience.  “We have earplugs that tie into our electric audio system in case a person has a problem and a juror had a call for them recently.  The carpet also cut down on the echo and even the walls can help.”  Judge Brinley said the walls are made of particle board, tapping on the surface near the entrance doors.  “They’ve been painted to look like brick or cinder blocks, but that’s all they’re made of, which helps a little bit with hearing what’s going on.”

The color scheme for the ceiling, plus some of the ornate brands or glyphics that have been inscribed into it was finalized during a visit on Monday, October 10th with Charise Boomsma, the consultant for EverGreene. The commissioners want to make certain that the new paint is as close as possible to the original paints used, even after some 80 or 90 years.  Terry VanderWell of EverGreene said the colors on the wall will be changed as well, to provide a warmer feel for the room, going from a very light green to a sand or beige color.  The commissioners applied for grants to help pay for the cost of the restoration project which is expected to be completed by the end of the first week in November.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: City of LamarCountyFeaturedHistoryPublic Safety

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