Courthouse Annex gets new AC unit as temperatures soar
By Karen Hall and Ivory Riner
Employees of offices in the Courthouse Annex finally gave up their struggle with the heat and closed at noon Wednesday, with the sincere hope that their new AC unit would be working and the building cooled down by the time they got back Thursday morning.
The new air conditioning unit was delivered Monday, and a huge crane lifted it to the roof of the annex, and also lowered the old unit onto a trailer to be taken away. Then technicians set to work hooking up the new unit.
This occupied the remainder of Monday and all day Tuesday.
County Clerk Daphne Fagan said they were told a technician would be back at 8 a.m. Wednesday to complete the finishing touches and switch on the air conditioning. By 10 a.m. he hadn't arrived, and the decision was made to close at noon.
Even with most of the lights off, blinds shut, all doors propped open, and heavy-duty fans set up in the halls and offices, it was stiflingly hot indoors, as the outdoor temperature climbed into the 90s. This was just on the first floor. On the second and third floors, with no windows that open, it was even hotter.
Assistant Budget Director Heidi McElhaney reported the previous week the temperature in the budget office reached 95 degrees one afternoon, and they had to close up and go home.
"We've had no air all week," she said at a budget committee meeting on the 14th.
With the air now on 74 downstairs and 70 upstairs, overly excited Annex employees gather the cooled building on Thursday morning. "We are very happy the air is back on. It got to 95 up here. Some days we had to work all day in the scorching hot, and one day we didn't even come in because of the unbearable heat. They have gotten us mini air units now," said McElhaney.
The committee kept their meeting short because it was so hot in the room where they gathered, but they did decide to offer the job of budget director to one of the two candidates they interviewed last month.
McElhaney said she and the rest of the budget office were working hard to get the last fiscal year closed, and the 2014-2015 budget finished. It has to be approved by the budget committee and then published in the newspaper. There has to be a certain number of days given for the public to study the budget before a public hearing is held and commissioners can vote to approve it.
This timetable is complicated by the handover of power from the old county commission to the new one. The budget committee which was meeting last week ceases to exist when the current commission's term ends on Aug. 31, so until a new budget committee is formed, there is no one to recommend a new budget, even if one is ready.
New commissioners will be sworn in on Aug. 28, and attend a special called meeting at 6 p.m. Sept. 2 to choose their chairman. This will be followed by a meeting of the nominating committee, so by the end of that day, there should be a budget committee again.