Courthouse security confirms restoration needed for building

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

By Clint Confehr

Senior Staff Writer

Security has been added to the reasons to recreate the west side door to the Marshall County Courthouse, according to county leaders, including budget committeemen who've authorized an architect to round up construction contractors qualified to bid on the job.

James Kennon, owner of Kennon Architects in Nashville - and a man with family roots in Marshall County and his father's name engraved on the courthouse's previous restoration cornerstone - is "working diligently to get the drawings finished" this month, the architect told the budget committee last week.

"There are so many entrances to the building that nobody is screened on their way in," Kennon said. "That's the purpose of having this one entrance" on the west side.

Other doors "become exit-only doors," the architect said.

Speaking about building security Thursday, Assistant District Attorney Mike Randles compared courthouse security to insurance.

"The one time you need it, it's good that it's there," Randles said. "In Bedford County, they've gone through the same cost analysis."

Marshall County's Courthouse used to have four entrances like the courthouse in Shelbyville, but here the east and west entrances were closed to make space for the chancery court clerk and master's office on the east side and juvenile court offices on the west side.

Somewhat unsure about where her office will be when the work is done is Elizabeth Osborne, the county's juvenile services officer. Below her office is a courtroom where even a layman's observation of an outside wall and its peeling paint indicates water leaking into the building.

"Part of the restoration is dealing with rain water," Kennon said Monday. "The parapet bridge is also allowing water in."

The parapet bridge goes over a retaining wall on the west side. It's at the top of the stairs that haven't been used for years. Heating and cooling units are at the west side of the building.

"In the ground floor courtroom you'll see that water has made it in to the building on the bridge wall," Kennon said.

The proposed work is to repair the damage and prevent future damage, he said of how a new main entrance will solve the problem that's been evident on the west side of the building where Osborne works.

"It is coming though her office," Kennon said. "Her office used to be the west entrance ... The county will rearrange some of the spaces in the courthouse ..."

Outside, the new entrance "will appear like a side walk," Kennon said. Guardrails will be placed "where appropriate."

Kennon is now "awaiting comments from commissioners" before he issues a legal notice announcing that's called a "Request for Qualifications." It's an opportunity for construction contractors to say why they have the capability to do the job.

"I hope to issue it in a couple of weeks, depending on their (commissioners') comments," Kennon said.

It's a way to get applications and then establish a short list of those who are best qualified and then let them bid on the project.

"It's the same process as used for the roof and clock towers" project that was completed two years ago last month, the architect said.

The proposed work could be completed by this time next year, he said.

As for when construction might start, Kennon said, "We would hope sometime late next summer."

More than a few months ago when this latest phase of the courthouse restoration project was contemplated, Kennon thought that some parking spaces might be lost, but now he's concluded that there will be no change in the number of parking spaces after the work is completed.