Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

By Victoria Fowler
Gazette Reporter 

Courthouse project cost estimates jump


January 30, 2020

Brandy Dean, county facilities management director, and Gary Petrovich, county administrative director, Monday presented to the county commissioners the cost and possible upgrades and replacements at the courthouse and jail.

The project presented could include upgrades and replacements to roofing, HVAC, elevator, windows and doors, plumbing, electricity, jail facade, generators, etc.

For example, elevator changes could include access to the elevator from the ground level of the courthouse all the way to the roof. For generator upgrades, it was discussed to have the generator possibly cover all of the jail and courthouse. Currently, the generator covers the jail and I.T. portions of the courthouse.

Petrovich said what they thought would be $5 million total in upgrades and replacements is actually about $8 million.

“The basics of roof upgrade/replacement and the HVAC for the courthouse and the upgrade of the electrical system in the courthouse, initially, we were looking at $2.2 million, now that has ballooned to $4 million and that is with an overlay roof instead of the replacement,” Petrovich said.

Petrovich mentioned that the roof overlay is guaranteed to last for 20 years and can be renewed in 10 years with improvements. He said that this will give the same value as the replacement roof, but at half the cost.

The cost spike is primarily attributed to the HVAC replacement. Dean said it was previously thought the upgrades could be used on the current HVAC system, but after inspection, all aspects of the system would need to be replaced.

In December, Dean brought forth to the county commissioners ideas of upgrading the HVAC system and redoing the ceilings in the courthouse.

She explained to the county commissioners that the popcorn ceiling that is in the upstairs and downstairs portions of the courthouse has asbestos in it.

Asbestos is a group of six naturally occurring fibrous minerals composed of thin, needle-like fibers. Exposure to asbestos can cause cancer and different diseases, including mesothelioma and asbestosis.

Commissioner Art Swannack mentioned at a December workshop that the asbestos that is currently in the courthouse is encapsulated. Unless the asbestos is disturbed, it’s not a problem for those in the courthouse.

Dean said at Monday’s workshop that the estimate to remove the asbestos from the entire courthouse would be approximately $316,000.

“As we get closer to this project we would like more involvement from all departments,” Dean said. “We would encourage departments to think of the impact upgrading the HVAC and asbestos removal would have.”

Dean mentioned that if these upgrades were to take place, departments would possibly need to utilize space in other locations, so the projects can be completed.

The upgrade and replacement projects are to be completed by McKinstry Co., which is a construction engineering company that is headquartered in Seattle, but also has offices in Spokane and Pasco.

On Monday, Feb. 3 at 1:30 p.m. McKinstry representatives will have a workshop with county commissioners to give further details and discuss these possible projects.


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