By JIM MAURER
STAFF WRITER

Tim Bechtol, an architect with Peterman Associates, and Judge Kristen Johnson, of the county probate and juvenile court, took the Hancock County commissioners on a tour of the court offices Tuesday to view proposed improvement areas.

Bechtol is preparing bid documents for renovations that would improve building security and also upgrade the second floor of the 149-year-old building on Dorney Plaza. Constructed in 1867 by the Congregational Church, it has been used since by various entities including the Findlay Publishing Co. and the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office.

Bechtol said the upgrades and improvements are based on National Center for State Courts guidelines.

The entrance will have a security area installed, replacing interior front doors and an open area. The entrance interior will be similar to the nearby Hancock County Courthouse.

On the exterior, windows will be replaced, doors removed and installed, concrete repaired, and an alcove enclosed.

A structural engineer was consulted and inspected the property. Additional supports will be installed in some areas, but overall, the building is structurally good, Bechtol said.

The second floor has been used for storage, but will be converted to offices, a conference room, a computer lab, two waiting areas and bathrooms. An elevator will be installed in an existing stairway, while a separate stairway, previously closed off, will be reopened and rebuilt. A drop ceiling will be installed to hide various ceiling items and improve heating/lighting efficiency.

The second floor has been used for records storage by various county departments.

A portion of the second floor will be available for storage and future expansion, if necessary.

No timetable for completion of the improvements was mentioned and no cost estimate will be provided until the bid documents are done.

During the commissioners’ regular meeting, Commissioner Phillip Riegle said he recently attended a meeting to establish the county as a “Purple Heart Community” to recognize and honor recipients of the military medal for heroic acts by individuals who are injured, or killed, in combat. A proclamation and ceremony are expected in spring 2017.

The designation may be a joint effort between the city and the county, with a joint ceremony to honor recipients.

The commissioners also held an executive session for the stated purpose of discussing personnel hiring. No action was taken.

Maurer: 419-427-8420
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