Courthouse gets chilly

Emergency repairs needed for courthouse boiler; security tech upgrade is going well

By GARY HENRY ghenry@prairiepress.net
Posted 2/3/20

Employees at the Edgar County Courthouse suffered cold offices for a time after the building’s boiler failed.

County board member Andy Patrick discussed the situation during the …

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Courthouse gets chilly

Emergency repairs needed for courthouse boiler; security tech upgrade is going well

Posted

Employees at the Edgar County Courthouse suffered cold offices for a time after the building’s boiler failed.

County board member Andy Patrick discussed the situation during the board’s study session Monday, Jan. 27.

According to Patrick, it is believed a steam line under the concrete floor in the basement has a leak, which did two things. It prevented sufficient heat from getting to the rooms on the first floor and also meant too little water was returning to fill the condensate tank. 

“I think we’ve got it going now,” said Patrick. “We are heating the second floor, but it is still difficult to get heat to the first floor.”

Edgar County Clerk and Recorder August Griffith has an office of the first floor and he told board members things have improved since some repairs were made.

“The office was 64 degrees this morning,” Griffin said Monday, noting the office temperature earlier in the emergency had dropped to approximately 45 degrees.

A bad situation grew worse when water was added to the condensate tank to make up for the loss in the steam line. The insufficiently heated water caused cracks in the boiler.

“The fail safe should have stopped the cold water, I’m not sure why it didn’t,” said Patrick.

Additional work needing done involves cutting through the basement floor and replacing the bad pipe. Patrick said it appears this is a repeat problem because it is obvious the floor has been cut before.

Board member John Chittick asked about the timing of repairing the boiler to upgrades currently being done at the courthouse as part of a SmartWatt Energy project to gain efficiencies and reduce operating costs. Patrick estimated the new installations by SmartWatt are about a month away from going online so boiler repairs are necessary to keep the courthouse warm in the meantime, adding a boiler will still be necessary as a backup to extreme weather after the SmartWatt renovations are complete.

Patrick is also working with the county’s insurance provider about covering some of the costs. He was not able to provide an exact breakdown of expenses since an emergency repair is not biddable and the bills are still coming in.

Another boiler incident occurred Monday night when the Paris Fire Department was dispatched for a report of smoke in the courthouse. According to fire department personnel, light smoke was in the building but no fire was present. The boiler was overheated and firefighters cut off gas and electricity to the boiler.

Ross Carrell, the county’s I.T. specialist, was present for the study sessions and reported security upgrades with new and more cameras in the county buildings are going well.

“We are trying to get the panic buttons coordinated with the cameras so when somebody pushes a button the camera zooms in and the jail can see what’s going on,” said Carrell.

In addition to the new cameras and installation of fiber optic lines to all buildings, the project did a significant upgrade to the server running the system. He estimated the server can hold video from all of the cameras for a year before rolling over to start writing over old files and recording new data.

“We put a lot of storage on that server,” he said.

Carrell also spoke as a private citizen during the audience to visitors portion of the meeting. He asked the board to place a referendum question on the November ballot asking Edgar County citizens if they favor forming a new state. The secession, he said, would leave Chicago and Cook County and perhaps some of the collar counties, depending on the organization, as Illinois. The remainder of the state’s counties would form a new 51st state.

According to Carrell, Illinois has a population of 12.7 million people with 5 million living in Cook County and another million in DuPage County.

“That creates an imbalance in the politics and the economics of the state,” said Carrell.

No action is taken at study sessions and the matter will be taken up for discussion at a future meeting.