Citizens who need to conduct business at the Pettis County Courthouse in the next few months may find that they will literally have to complete a few more steps to accomplish their task.
Early last week the elevator in the courthouse was closed for much needed repairs and renovations.
“There is never a good time to take on a project like this,” Presiding Commissioner David Dick said. “The commissioners, (Brent Hampy, Eastern Commissioner and Jim Marcum, Western Commissioner) felt now would be the best time to schedule the work.
“You never want to inconvenience citizens who need to come to the courthouse for any reason,” Dick added. “Hopefully we will have the work done in three months before tax season.”
Dick is referring to property taxes, which come out in mid Nov. and are due by Dec. 31.
County Collector Marsha Boeschen’s offices are located on the second floor of the courthouse.
“We started the project a few days ago,” Eastern County Commissioner Brent Hampy said. “Already the crew is making very good progress and so we anticipate to be done in mid-Oct.”
Hampy, who is spear heading the project said all three commissioners felt the project was much needed not only because of the age of the elevator but for minor safety concerns as well.
“Each year the elevator is inspected,” Hampy said. “It has always passed but the elevator isn’t level when it stops. It tilts and we were concerned about possible falls.”
The commissioners received two bids, from OTIS and MEI and awarded the contract to Minnesota Elevator Incorporated, who presented the lowest bid.
The contract is for slightly over $99,000 and will be funded as general revenue line item.
The majority of the work will be in refurbishing the transmission and motors for the elevators. They are located on the roof of the courthouse.
Crews from W&M Welding will be at the courthouse mid-morning today to remove the structures for repair.
The elevator itself will see few cosmetic changes.
The courthouse was constructed in 1925 and is in the Historic Preservation Class.
“We can’t make the car bigger based on the historic guidelines we are under,” Hampy said. “We have to be very mindful of those terms and conditions.”
Hampy said that many people have told him stories of when they were younger; there was an elevator operator for the courthouse.
“She used to sit on a stool in the corner of the elevator,” Hampy said. “It was her job to take people to up and down to the floor they needed to be at. From what I’ve been told she was there for a long, long time.”
To help individuals who may have difficulties climbing the marble stairs to the second and third floor, the commissioners have set up a phone in the first floor lobby in the hallway near the elevator.
“If anyone needs any of our help, or the help of other offices in the courthouse, all they need to do is call our extensions,” Dick said. We’ll either try to answer their questions, or we will come down to them to help.”
Judge Robert Koffman, Division 4 Circuit Judge is expected to have two trials during the three-month time when the elevator is out of service.
“I know Judge Koffman had some concerns about potential jurors being able to get to the courtroom on the third floor,” Hampy said. “We hate that it may be an issue, but it is a minor concern in the grand scheme of the project.”
“We’re glad to have the project started,” Dick added. “It’s something that has been need for a long time and we want to do it right.
“Taking care of people should be our number one priority,” Dick said. “This is one way we can help to do that.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484