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County Seeks $1M Grant for Courthouse Repairs

Courthouse-and-Windmill

The Prowers County Courthouse, constructed and dedicated in 1929, is in need of at least $1M in upgrades. The Prowers County Commissioners have applied for a grant to cover the costs of the comprehensive project which includes a new HVAC system, complete replacement of the electrical infrastructure and LED lighting replacement and retrofits.

The courthouse has undergone some changes in its almost 90 year lifespan. An elevator was installed in the 1950s which required moving office space through the central core of the building’s four floors and basement and central air wasn’t introduced until the 1960s.  Prior to that, each floor and offices had to use open windows and fans to cool the facility, plus screens which helped keep insects at bay.

Prowers County Commission Chairman, Ron Cook, explained that once the grant has been approved, the renovations can move forward in a complete and comprehensive plan as opposed to a band aid approach of fixing a broken part on one floor and a repair job on another item on another floor. “We intend to have a lot of the work done in the evenings, once all the county employees have left for the day,” he said.  “There may be some overlaps, but this allows the daily routine in the courthouse to be kept, while the repair work can be done without interfering with the staff.”

New Sidewalk Going in Around Courthouse

New Sidewalk Going in Around Courthouse

Cook estimated that the grant application would be completed by the end of November; final bids on the RFP would be submitted by December 19th and would allow for a two week review period.  A contractor would be selected by January and construction would begin that month with the expectation that all the work would be completed by May of next year.  There would also be some in-house financing in line with the grant.  The new upgrades would be expected to perform for at least the next 30 years in the life of the building.

Adding a New Load of Supplies

Adding a New Load of Supplies

Last month, grant funding was used to repair water damage done to the third floor courtroom as well as resurfacing the expanding the east parking lot for courthouse employees and visitors.  This past summer, crews rebuilt the sidewalks surrounding the courthouse including the north entrance to the building.  Other recent improvements included a new roof and two years ago a new boiler system was installed in the basement.

By Russ Baldwin

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