Sherman St. entrance to Lawrence County courthouse closed

Due to the potential for falling debris above the Sherman Street entrance to the Lawrence County Courthouse, an emergency has been declared by the county commission and measures to mitigate the circumstances will be explored further at the July 14 commission meeting. A map on a fence at the front of the building directs patrons to two other entrances. Pioneer photo by Jaci Conrad Pearson

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DEADWOOD — A courthouse roof condition consultation prior to the replacement venture turned up more than county officials bargained for, resulting in the emergency closure of the main doors to the courthouse and Sherman Street entrance until at least July 14.

That said, the Lawrence County Commission Tuesday declared an emergency on the courthouse building, due to the roof and façade masonry conditions.

“It is an emergency. You’ve been told to close the front door from our insurance company,” said Commission Chairman Brandon Flanagan. “We’ve got to get something addressed.”

Commissioner Randy Deibert said the rest of the concerns regarding whether or not the roof and masonry conditions are tied together are ancillary.

“We have an emergency. We need to declare it and move on,” Deibert said.

April 28, the Lawrence County Commission approved hiring Steve Williams of Williams & Associates Architecture as a project consultant and gave authorization to prepare to let the project for bid.

In turn, permission was given to hire Renaissance Roofing of Belvidere, Ill., to provide general scope for restoration of the copper roof system on the main roof, the tower dome roof, tower cupola, and decorative copper elements of the tower in the amount of $7,610.

June 16, county officials and Renaissance Roofing principals engaged the services of a crane to explore the condition of the roof and identified an unexpected and potentially hazardous situation.

“They had some folks that are very knowledgeable about masonry,” Outka said. “They had people who went up in the basket and looked at the roof, didn’t see anything unexpected about the roof, but during the evaluation of the masonry, they discovered some issues.”

Buildings, Grounds, and Maintenance Supervisor Tim Agena said when the roof inspection was being conducted, crews came around to the front side for evaluation.

“The insurance people were in the basket and when they saw this particular area … they said, ‘You need to go and look at this. Because it’s over your main entrance. You need to block that entrance off right away because there’s brick and stuff getting ready to fall.’”

Agena proceeded to go up in the basket with the crane rigger and masonry expert.

“He saw more that was in failure than they had initially seen and recommended that we close that entrance off immediately, too,” Agena said. “The way he put it to me was, some of that stuff can stay up there for five or 10 more years, but it could fall today, tomorrow, and him and the insurance guys were pretty adamant about closing it off, which made perfect sense to us, too.”

Agena said the failure can’t be seen from the ground.

“When I went up and got a bird’s eye view inside the basket, ‘oh man, this is not a good deal,’” Agena said.

An estimate provided by Renaissance Roofing to do a temporary covering on the area amounts to $35,200 to allow the entrance to be open.

“They’re building scaffolding, basically,” Agena said.

Outka said that right now, the entrance could be used only as an emergency exit.

“We’re a bit concerned that that is a primary means of ingress and egress out of the building,” Outka said. “It could stay closed, I guess, but, that’s the question. What does one do to get that open in the meantime?”

Outka said in the larger context of all this is determining whether or not an emergency situation exists for both the masonry and roof issues.

“If that can be substantiated, then the bidding requirements and so forth, could be avoided and we could get started working on the project sooner than later,” Outka said, later adding that he doesn’t know that the county could do anything earlier than spring 2021. “I think we’re going to get stuck, mainly because of issues such as fabricating metal parts for the roof and also any replacement parts that are necessary for the stonework.”

Outka said the intent was to ask the commission to approve an emergency declaration July 14 and to keep the door closed until that time.

Commissioner Randy Deibert asked when the roof is scheduled for replacement.

Outka said it is not yet scheduled and that new leaks are presenting themselves.

“There is some leaking that occurs in the northeast corner in Judge Comer’s office that is different than what we’ve seen in the past, not significant now, but there is some water issues there that lend themselves to the idea that maybe there are greater roof issues than we know about,” Outka said, suggesting that perhaps the two systems – roof and masonry – are tied together and the failure of one causing failure of the other.

Commissioner Daryl Johnson suggested hiring an engineer to determine whether or not the roof and masonry issues are related.

Outka said the next step would be to work with Williams to identify the contractors he recommends to move forward with the work.

The roof was damaged in hailstorms and the estimate from the insurance company was approximately $693,000 to replace it.

Outka said previously the project could exceed $1 million by the time it’s done.

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