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Committee revamps efforts to restore historic Jackson County courthouse
Work continues, but budget concerns loom
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Day at the Historic Courthouse
What: Speakers, entertainers, children’s activities and a guided tour
When: May 8
Where: Jackson County Historic Courthouse, Jefferson

JEFFERSON — Work continues on restoring the historic county courthouse in Jefferson, but the committee leading the efforts is coming close to depleting its $2 million budget.

County capital projects manager Don Clerici, along with Jackson County Historic Courthouse Committee chairwoman Charlotte Mealor and project architect Gene Barrington, went before the Jackson County Board of Commissioners last week to present changes to the construction contracts and give the commission an update on the project.

The proposed changes, which will be voted on at the commission’s next meeting, include extending Blue Frog Construction’s contract by about four months, adding exterior renovations and scaling back the budget for the interior work to help pay for those additional repairs, according to supplemental agenda documents.

The construction work began last summer, but when the construction company removed the building’s paint, they found several areas that needed major repair.

Blue Frog’s contract extension will allow them to complete those renovations they didn’t plan, including applying a lime wash to the building to prevent moisture from getting trapped in the walls, fixing some deteriorated sections of the building’s exterior and changing some of the materials to be used in the repairs.

“The project has experienced numerous delays that are associated with renovation projects of this nature. Then also ... the abnormal rain and wet weather we’ve had beginning around mid-August had added to this as well,” Clerici said. “With some of these items, you’re not sure what you’re going to find” until construction begins.

To help cover the cost, the $250,000 budget for interior work will be reduced to about $112,500.

Clerici said the committee is getting close to using all of the $2 million set aside for the restoration.

“We’re hitting the top, to say the least,” he said. “We’re pushing the upper end of the $2 million that was allotted for the project.”
Mealor said the committee would like the commission to consider adding the interior construction costs to the special purpose local option sales tax referendum that will be on the ballot in November.

County staff members have previously met with representatives from Jackson County’s nine municipalities about the SPLOST vote and what the funds will go toward.

“We would like to plant a seed and ask that you consider adding this work to the SPLOST referendum,” Mealor said. “We’re in the process of preparing some estimates for completing the first floor of county offices as well as the archive, research and welcome areas.”

Although construction won’t be finished on the historic courthouse, the restoration committee still plans to host its Day at the Historic Courthouse on May 8. The event will feature local speakers and entertainers, children’s activities, food and a short guided tour of the courtroom, Mealor said.

“We will, of course, follow any and all public-safety guidelines that are set forth by the county’s insurance plan,” she added.

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