Kosciusko County Courthouse in need of upgrades

As County Administrator Marsha McSherry entered her makeshift office to talk about the maintenance issues with the 133-year-old Kosciusko County Courthouse, an assistant outside mentioned rainwater leaking into a boiler room.

Earlier in the day Tuesday, McSherry was given permission by the county commissioners to spend about $9,000 to repair and stabilize masonry blocks near the top of the courthouse exterior.

And that appears to be just the tip of the iceberg.

“She’s an old lady,” McSherry said of the courthouse.

While there are many little projects in the courthouse that are being addressed,  the need for updates, repairs and general upkeep extend beyond the courthouse to numerous other buildings owned by the county.

Another recent example:

During a heavy rain, all of the north-facing windows on three floors of the Justice Building were leaking and needed sealing, McSherry said.

Possibly the biggest project of the year involves renovations in the lower level of the courthouse, which have forced a handful of workers, including McSherry, to relocate their workspace temporarily.

Changes on the lower level began in January when workers began investigating water damage in one office.

When workers peeled back a wall in the office, they discovered the extent was much worse and would require renovating the entire room. The water damage had apparently been accumulating for years, McSherry said.

At the same time, other changes are being made to move human resources staff and personnel records to a more secure setting.

On top of that, new flooring in the lower-level hallway was installed earlier this year. The floor had been uneven for decades and represented a safety issue, McSherry said.

Total cost of the lower-level renovations, including the floor, is expected to be under $50,000 and work will be complete sometime next month, she said.

While general upkeep and repairs are nothing new, McSherry, in her first year as county administrator, has been assembling a comprehensive wish list of projects to be considered.

The county owns 15 properties with buildings, including eight that are 50 or more years old. The oldest is the “old jail” where the historical society has a museum. That building is 147 years old.

Three highway buildings on the east end of Warsaw are 57 years old and all are set to be replaced or renovated next year.

McSherry’s wish list for various buildings includes floor maintenance and repairs or replacement of toilets, doors, sewer pumps, locks in the jail and fire alarms, among others.

Also part of the list is removal of bed bugs at the work release building, totaling about $17,000.

A lot of the projects are “relatively minor, but those things add up,” McSherry said. “When you have that many buildings and that many that are of that age … it adds up.”

According to information provided by the county, officials also are looking at roof repairs to the courthouse in 2021. No price estimate was provided.

“I was kind of shocked that there were that many things,” said Commissioner Brad Jackson.

He said the county will continue to review the list to determine if the work is essential and whether money is available.

McSherry said officials are considering establishing a maintenance fund to help address the ongoing work.