published Saturday, July 23rd, 2011

Rhea group seeks courthouse repair grant

  • photo
    The Rhea County Courthouse needs security modifications.
    Photo by correspondent Kimberly McMillian

DAYTON, Tenn. -- The Rhea County Historical and Genealogy Society is seeking up to $25,000 from the state to help repair and preserve the county's historic courthouse.

Chairman Tom Davis wrote a letter to County Executive George Thacker's office earlier this month requesting estimates on the cost of labor and materials in order to submit a grant application to the state.

In June, the Tennessee Historical Commission announced it was accepting grant applications for historic preservation projects for the upcoming fiscal year until Sept. 1. An estimated $400,000 is expected in Tennessee, but specifics won't be available until Congress passes the 2011-12 budget.

At Tuesday's meeting of Rhea County commissioners, the historical society was granted permission to submit a grant application for up to $25,000 in state funding, county finance director Bill Graham said.

Davis' letter on behalf of the society requested estimates for repairing, glazing and painting courthouse windows, along with work on other "areas of concern" as mentioned in a 2007 letter from Jeff Gallups, former project manager for Chattanooga-based March Adams and Associates.

In the 4-year-old letter, per former county maintenance director Marty Derlak, a site inspection of the 1891-built courthouse was completed on April 18, 2007. It noted that renovations were made in 1976, and that heating and cooling systems were replaced in 2001.

The letter stated that the original roof framing construction was still intact, but areas were repaired above the main courtroom.

"No deflection was noted in the cracked timbers ... the splits have weakened them," the letter stated, and structural stability might become a concern if deflection occurred in the beams.

Cracks in the walls and ceiling, along with roof leaks that had caused bubbling and peeling of the plastered walls, also were mentioned in the inspection.

On Friday afternoon, Thacker, who has been overseeing the county's centralized maintenance department since Derlak's resignation, said the roof leaks were fixed but he couldn't elaborate on any other repairs that may have been completed.

According to a March Adams representative on Friday, no inspection has been done "in quite a while."

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