Poke some holes in the courthouse roof

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By The Staff

We're going to spend $57,715 and hope for the best.

That was the decision that emerged from a May 29 Perry County Redevelopment Commission meeting.

We understand and appreciate the frustration its members expressed about needing to reroof a courthouse not yet 15 years old. We wish, however, that they'd gone a step beyond merely replacing the shingles.

As we reported Thursday, a couple of members said they didn't want to authorize that work, knowing problems that led to leaks will remain, but felt it was their best option.

We are not roofing experts, but it appears more could have been (and still could be) done to ensure we'll get our money's worth.

Ventilation issues were cited as contributing to degradation of the original roof. Several questions arose, but couldn't be answered, in the redevelopment commissioners' examination of the issue. Attorney Chris Goffinet tried to determine through research why ridge vents, for example, weren't installed. Because records are no longer available, he was unsuccessful in that and in finding out why soffit vents were blocked, apparently in the original construction.

Anyone who has ventured into the unfinished attic of their own home during a hot summer day would appreciate the importance of ventilation. In addition to heat, it dissipates moisture that can collect and cause damage.

Goffinet explained during at least one of the several meetings on the issue that the courthouse's attic area was intended to be climate-controlled just as the ground floor is because water pipes run through it. If that's the case, exterior ventilation would allow the expensive escape of heated or cooled air, and should not have been included in the original plans.

Whatever was intended, the attic area needs to be ventilated to either the interior or exterior. The re-roofing agreement the county officials signed late last month, however, includes no direction even to examine the ventilation issue, much less correct it.

A consultant who looked at the roof last summer estimated repairs would cost $184,000 if the ventilation problems are corrected. But the same expert said simply replacing the shingles would cost $107,000, nearly twice the amount the contractor bid.

Approximately $111,000 is available in the fund from which the repairs will be paid. Subtracting the nearly $58,000 specified in the agreement for shingle replacement leaves $53,000.

Given our limited knowledge of roofing practices, we suspect a good deal of ventilation could, and should be provided for far less than that.

There's still time, but not much.

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