Courthouse going modern
The Colusa County Courthouse is about to get some modern, indoor improvements.
Outside, the 1861 structure will regain some of its earlier appearance.
The Colusa County Board of Supervisors will spend approximately $250,000 over the next few weeks to equip the historic landmark with central heating and air conditioning.
The "green" improvements will allow the county to remove the swamp cooling system from the Hall of Records and the row of tiny box air conditioning units from the windows along the west side of the courthouse, which has long-given one of the oldest courthouses in the state a shoddy appearance, county officials said.
"It won't be completely energy efficient," said Supervisor Kim Dolbow Vann. "Because the courthouse is an historic landmark, we can't modernize the windows. But it will still save us a fortune on heating and air conditioning costs."
The county awarded the contract to W.V. Alton Inc. of Marysville for $191,257, which includes the removal of the old boiler in the basement and the installation of central heat and air throughout.
Before the unit can be installed, however, the county must have the asbestos removed from the courthouse ceiling and air ducts, according to Supervisor Gary Evans, who is overseeing the project.
Evans said the asbestos issue came up after the county initially approved the project.
Asbestos, a natural silicate mineral, was widely used in building construction throughout the late 19th and nearly all the 20th century because of its resistance to fire or heat, said Rande Brookins, Colusa County building services supervisor.
The substance has been banned or phased out of most U.S. products since the 1970s, because of its connection to lung and esophageal cancer.
PARC Specialty Contractors of Sacramento was awarded the asbestos abatement project, which will be monitored and certified by Kellco-Macs of Hayward.
County officials have designated about $45,000 from the Tobacco Settlement Fund to pay for the asbestos removal.
Vann said because of the asbestos, one of the rooms, formerly occupied by the District Attorney, will lose its historic high ceiling.
"Its unfortunate," she said. "We would like to keep it as historic as possible, but we have to accept it."
Contractors have been asked to get the project underway as soon as possible, before the hot weather. Only the Hall of Records (Clerk-Recorder's office) will be without air conditioning during most of the month of June.
Once the air conditioning project is completed, the clerks of the Board of Supervisors will move to a downstairs office, allowing the county to expand the Board of Supervisors chambers to accommodate a larger audience.
The county personnel department will also relocate from the Bunker Building on the east side of the courthouse, to the main courthouse, opening space in the Bunker for expansion of the information technology department.
The Board of Supervisors has also allocated an office with two work stations and computers for the five members of the Board to share, Vann said.
The new offices in the courthouse were made possible by the move of the District Attorney's office to the new Wintun Building on Fifth St., which was funded by casino impact money.
The county has not completely identified all the funding that will be needed for the courthouse remodel project, although most is coming from development fees and the General Fund.
Vann said the project will pay for itself in a few years due to the savings in energy costs.