Elevator expense going up

By Kristen Tribe | Published Wednesday, August 27, 2014
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A state inspection revealed this summer that the courthouse elevator needs improvement.

It may not make the creaky ride to the top faster, but it should be safer.

County Judge Glenn Hughes told commissioners at a July 28 meeting that the elevator, which runs on a single-wall cylinder, must be converted to a double-wall cylinder to meet current safety code. At that time he said Otis Elevator Co., the company that currently maintains the elevator, estimated the cost at $60,000.

Commissioners decided to seek bids, but the only company that threw its hat in the ring was Otis with a formal bid of $70,000. They were awarded the job in Monday’s regular commissioners meeting.

The elevator was installed in the early ’60s, and the hydraulic cylinder that runs it fits into a hole in the bedrock underneath the courthouse.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Kevin Burns said Tuesday that they’re not sure how deep the hole is, but it could be up to 12 or 15 feet. The current hole was drilled for the single-wall cylinder and will have to be enlarged to fit the double-wall cylinder. It will also have to be drained of any fluids that may have collected in it. Burns said fluids will also likely drain into it as the elevator is disassembled.

At this point, it’s not clear how or who will drill and drain the hole.

Otis representative Amanda Haynes told commissioners that their bid does not include “drilling or sucking out the hole.” It only includes the parts and labor to change the cylinder.

“The hole you have now is so small that you can’t get the hose down there to suck it out,” she said. “There are a lot of unknowns … as far as putting a price on it, it’s impossible.”

Haynes said the county could hire someone else to drill the hole, but an Otis mechanic would have to be present.

“It’s solid rock under the courthouse, and that’s what they’re worried about,” Burns said. “And that’s understandable.”

The commissioner said Otis could do the work or they might hire it out.

“I wanted to reserve the right to do it ourselves, as well as cleaning out the fluids,” he said. “I’m curious about what type of machinery will be required for the job.”

Commissioners will further investigate the best method to drill and drain the hole so the project can move forward.

The county was notified of the necessary upgrade during an annual state inspection in June and has until June 2015 to complete the work.

If it’s not completed by that time, the elevator will be shut down.

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