Restoration work on Lonoke County’s 86-year-old courthouse will turn into a full-scale weatherization project, with a $140,000 price tag. Approval of County Judge Doug Erwin’s request was among the actions taken by justices of the peace at the May 16 quorum court meeting.
Erwin and Justices of the Peace Brent Canon, Barry Weathers, Henry Lang, Darrin Waymack, Tim Lemons, Adam Sims, Charles Evans, Roger Lynch, Bill Ryker, Mike Dolan and Matt Sanders attended the meeting. Lee Linville and Larry Odom were absent.
The original work was on a $45,000 historic preservation grant to re-point the top six feet of the courthouse, Erwin said. That work has been under way for about a month, he said.
“To the best of my knowledge, there has been no grouting on the building since 1928,” Erwin said.
Six companies had bid on the work; Mid-Continental Restoration Co. Inc., of Fort Scott, Kan., had made the low bid, Erwin said.
“I asked how much it would cost to complete the outside of the building,” Erwin said. That would include grinding and re-mortaring each joint, and replacing any deteriorated bricks, Erwin said. “There are a few bricks that need replacing, that have actually crumbled and fell out over time,” he said.
The company quoted him $139,888, Erwin said.
“I know that figure is an enormous amount of money to anybody for anything, but we are looking at a historical building that hasn’t had any TLC in almost a hundred years,” Erwin said. There are signs of weather damage occurring inside the courthouse, he said.
Trying for more grants would put off repairs for at least another year, if the grant were approved at all, Erwin said.
Lemons and Ryker agreed that the work needs to be done, with the only question being how to pay for it.
Sanders said the problem has been “75 to 80 years in the making.” With budget considerations to begin in four to five months, “That will be the time to see if we have the money,” he said.
After discussion, the quorum court voted to amend the weatherization budget to provide the $140,000. Sanders voted against the action.
In other matters, questions on increasing the beaver bounty led to a call for a Beaver Control committee meeting from Sims.
Sims said trappers need encouragement to continue their work through the summer months, rather than only during the traditional winter season. Otherwise, any progress in controlling the beaver population and preventing flooding is lost, he said.
Raising the bounty would serve to maintain trapping. “Make it beneficial for [trappers] to go out with the snakes and everything else to trap,” Sims said.
The Beaver Control meeting will be 6:30 p.m., Thursday, May 23, in the conference room of the Courthouse Annex, 210 N. Center St., Lonoke.
Trappers and others interested in beaver control would be invited to the meeting.
In other interviews, Sims said he promotes beaver control because the cost of control is much lower than the cost of repairing road damage caused by dammed ditches and streams.
Evans questioned the scheduling of work hours for county employees, whether the 40-hour work week. Currently, they work five 8-hour days set out in the county personnel policy. Evans questioned if the hours could be in four 10-hour days.
After discussion, Evans, chairman of the personnel committee, said he would coordinate a committee meeting to consider the issue.
The meeting has been set for 6 p.m., June 4, in the Lonoke County Courthouse Annex conference room, 210 N. Center St., Lonoke. The meeting is open to the public.
County Clerk Larry Clarke told the quorum court of changes to the county payroll system to make information available that otherwise has not been included in monthly reports.
Clarke told of the system changes while responding to a query from Evans about accrued compensatory time to employees. Evans had asked why the required information was not included in reports. “It could get real important at the end of the year,” he said.
The previous payroll system did not track sick or vacation time, Clarke said. The system “flip-flopped things” when added to the payroll, he said.
Vacation time became sick time, sick time became vacation time, Clarke said.
Revisions to the system had been received just the day before; the information should be made available for the June quorum court meeting, he said.