By Alex Haglund
For close to a year now, there has been a fence up around the historic Washington County Courthouse and a thorough renovation has been going on.
As soon as work on the new Judicial Center was complete and the court, the offices of the State’s Attorney, Circuit Clerk and Judge were moved, the county board began to plan the renovation of the old courthouse.
In February, the offices of the County Clerk, Supervisor of Assessments and the County Treasurer were all moved into their temporary offices in the Community Center, and on March 2, the renovation began.
Since then, work has been going on and every county board meeting sees extensive discussions about the construction. The initial architect for the project (and for the Judicial Center) Image Architects, went out of business. Despite that issue, regular setbacks and plenty of change orders, overall, work on the building has been progressing well.
County Board Building Committee Chairman Gary Suedmeyer said that while he did not wish to give a percentage for the building’s completeness, he said, “I’m hoping to be in there by March.”
Suedmeyer was sure to clarify that March was a personal goal for the project and not one vetted by the building committee or the contractors doing the work.
“There’s a lot of ‘ifs’ between now and March,” Suedmeyer said, “There’s a lot of detail work inside and that kind of stuff left to go. At the present time, on the second floor, all of the drywall is in place, it’s had one coat of paint on it and they’re putting up wainscoting and they’ll probably be done with the wainscoting by the end of this week in the upstairs hallway and the boardroom.”
Outdoors, the facade of the building has a new look to it, with a front stairway and entrance ramp that frame the south end of the building, yet still match the look of the existing brick and concrete work.
For the officeholders and staff who will be working in the building, the renovations will be a boon.
“For one thing, the heating cooling before was an atrocity,” said Suedmeyer, “that seems to be much better, not just in each office, but in each room.” In terms of lighting, “we have opened it back up, like it was meant to be.”
“I hope that the comfort of the employees should be immensely better,” Suedmeyer said.
For now, those officeholders destined to return to the courthouse remain at the community center.
With the final due date for taxes coming up, one of those office holders, Kelly Cameron, the county treasurer, wanted to remind readers that they were out at the Community Center, for now.
The final due date for taxes is on Friday, December 11, and they need to be to be in by 4 p.m., the close of business.
The treasurer’s office, along with the offices of the supervisor of assessments and the county clerk are located at 457 S. Washington St. and hours are from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. They will remain there at least until March, and hopefully not much later.