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Renovations ongoing at downtown courthouse

Improvements continue in one county building, but a different use will now have to be considered for another.
Washington County Mayor Dan Eldridge provided a property update during the July 11 meeting of the County-Owned Property Committee.
Fred Ward Architects in Johnson City has been hired to prepare drawings for the second floor of the downtown Jonesborough courthouse to accommodate the mayor’s offices and renovations to the county commission chamber.
Eldridge said he discussed the first draft of the proposal with Commission Chair Greg Matherly earlier that day.
Exterior renovations include pressure washing and painting the entire courthouse, now that louvers from the back of the building have been removed.
Eldridge said everything will be painted but the clock tower, which needs repairs.
A lot of exterior work on the courthouse has been completed during the last year, including repairs to the front steps and all of the columns, in preparation for its 100th anniversary.
Commissioner George “Skip” Oldham asked about Jonesborough businessman Steve Cook’s idea for lighting.
Eldridge said Cook has proposed mounting lights on the roofs of Jonesborough Artglass and the Washington County Office Building that would be directed toward the clock tower.
Cook said it is a historic building that should be lit at night, and he thinks he can get donations to cover the cost of the lights.
Eldridge also asked County-Owned Property Committee members to consider including a taller, self-lit aluminum flag pole in the renovation project.
As far as interior improvements, painting has already begun on the second floor.
Also, the structural analysis of the Archive Annex on the third floor of the building has been completed.
Recommendations include the reinforcement of the connection between the beams and columns on the second and third floors.
All of the steel from the former jail cells has been removed, and the floors will be smoothed out within a few weeks. After a final cleaning, the area will be ready to paint prior to the reinforcement.
The reinforcement, which will be paid for with funds from the archive account, will triple the storage capacity of the Annex. The archive is currently paying $80 per month for each of the four trailers storing records from the Downtown Centre.
Exterior work on the courthouse should be completed by the fall, with the interior renovations and improvements finished by the end of the calendar year.
Eldridge also said he wanted to make committee members aware that plans have fallen through for an adult daycare center at the county farm. First Tennessee Human Resources Agency was working on the project, but was unable to secure the necessary funds.
A new alternative for the property may be pursued with the Johnson City Housing Authority, which is interested in providing low-income housing in the county.
Eldridge spoke with Director Richard McClain who said there is a need for senior adult housing and veterans housing.
“They have the grant resources available to fund (the project) and the expertise to operate,” Eldridge said.
A tour of the county farm will be scheduled with McClain, and Eldridge invited committee members to attend.