Repairs to the Wayne County courthouse’s exterior could conclude this fall.

Steve Higinbotham, the county’s director of facilities and development, provided project updates July 19 during the combined county council and commissioners workshop.

The project was originally expected to stretch into 2024; however, Higinbotham said work has proceeded this spring and summer enough to expect completion yet this year. Work began last fall, then paused through the winter.

While the completion is positive, Higinbotham alerted council members that the $1,381,560 balance in the $1.8 million project would be due from 2023 money.

Higinbotham also discussed six remaining 2023 projects and presented a list of 25 possible projects for 2024.

The 2023 projects include new roofs for the First Bank Kuhlman Center and horse barn at the Wayne County Fairgrounds as well as work around the Wayne County Administration Building and parking lot.

Another project is to secure the judge’s entrance to Circuit Court. Currently Judge April Drake walks through a hallway to access the courtroom. Other county judges have private doors leading from their chambers to their courtrooms.

The possible 2024 projects continue repair work and upgrades for the courthouse, annex building and fairgrounds. It also includes a new HVAC system for the Wayne County Health Department’s building, removal of highway department underground fuel tanks that have exceeded their expected life span and an armored emergency vehicle for the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office.

Some of the annex and courthouse work involves repairing or replacing brick sidewalks at the county complex. The courthouse entrance would then be made Americans with Disabilities Act compliant. Other ADA projects proposed include compliant doorknobs and drinking fountains for the courthouse and annex.

The completion of the courthouse exterior project and the brick work would facilitate new landscaping around the courthouse and annex and improvements, such as lighting, to parking areas. Additional security measures are also possibilities for both buildings.

Possible fairgrounds projects include replacing Kuhlman ceiling tiles, LED lights in fairgrounds buildings, upgraded electric hookups for camping, an area to store tables and chairs for use inside rented buildings, plus resurfaced and additional fairgrounds parking.

Project approvals

Council gave permission with 6-0 votes for two projects to move forward.

Brandon Sanders, the county’s engineer, received permission to apply for an Indiana Department of Transportation Community Crossings grant to replace the deck on the Brick Church Road bridge between Heiney and Jerry Meyers roads.

Mike Sharp, the county’s highway supervisor, was authorized to move forward developing specifications for bidding to provide new aboveground fuel tanks. 

Sharp received an estimate of $495,000 for tanks. The estimate does not include asphalt or concrete work the highway department could do in-house.

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A version of this article appeared in the July 26 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Mike Emery is a reporter and layout editor for the Western Wayne News.