The infrastructure of the Prowers County Courthouse is beginning to show its age. Built in the late 1920s, some of the facility operation systems are breaking down including on-going HVAC, electrical and safety failures. This need has prompted the Prowers County Commissioners to hire a construction firm, 360 Energy Engineers, to provide an assessment and cost of replacement and repairs for each floor of the building. They reviewed the latest update on the $2,750,000 project this past Tuesday, January 10th which, according to Commissioner, Ron Cook, will have to be paid out of pocket. “We had applied for a $1M grant last month, but it was not approved,” he explained, adding that there were a high amount of similar requests from around the state.
Lee Macke, the construction manager for the project said the HVAC replacement is the biggest piece of the project, as the brand new system will replace the antiquated two pipe hydronic system which is about 50 years old. The boiler and the chiller system in the basement had failures this past year, caused in part by the some plugged pipes which were discovered in a number of locations. “This lack of flow was the cause for a number of locations which had neither heat nor cold around the courthouse,” he stated. The project calls for a four pipe routing system for the three main floors as well as new boilers, a new chiller, new fan coil units, ductwork changes for individual offices and new controls for the complete system. “This will allow an office to determine how warm or cool they want to be without impacting everyone else,” he said. Separate portable heaters and coolers were used around the courthouse in the past year which placed an extra strain on the courthouse electrical systems.
Regarding electrics, Macke said the most pressing needs will be addressed including a set of new electrical distribution panels on each floors which will support additional branch circuits and some of the older ones will be cleaned up during the project. “Some of these are so old they have no grounding conductor, just two prongs for a plug-in and not the standard three-prong outlets we see today,” he stated.
The new LED lighting system will use the latest technology which will be a considerable upgrade over current fluorescent lighting and will reduce operating expenses which will lower electrical costs. “We should see lower costs in your budget over time and that will be one of the driving factors in this project,” he told the commissioners.
Macke said coordinating all the various sub-contractors on the project will be reviewed once the bidding process is complete, probably by mid February. “We want to have a complete budget in place, conduct a material and equipment quality review to be sure all items in the project meet our standards and set up a schedule to let everyone know who is doing what and when.” He said he plans to hold weekly updates once the project gets underway so everyone is at the same place and give the various offices a heads-up on when their area of work will be impacted. There are plans to have a lot of the work conducted after hours, so as not to interfere with the daily schedule of courthouse activities, but some overlaps are unavoidable.
By Russ Baldwin
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