• John McGary, Woodford Sun Staff

Court may spend $900K on clock tower, courthouse

Woodford Fiscal Court voted 5 to 2 Tuesday to pay approximately $900,000 to restore the clock tower and fix problems with gutters and several of the quoins on the building, which was dedicated in 1970. Magistrates C.L. Watts (Dist. 2) and Mary Ann Gill (Dist. 7) voted no. Magistrate Linda Popp (Dist. 1) was absent. Several meetings ago, the court voted to give the clock tower and quoins repair project emergency status because of safety concerns. Maintenance Superintendent Rick Wade has said several times that he's worried that high winds could detach some of the wood and jeopardize the safety of pedestrians. At Tuesday's meeting, the court considered two options, neither of which are official estimates: Paying $898,000 to restore the clock tower and fix the quoin and gutter problems, and $756,000 to remove the clock tower and replace it with a mini-roof. Both prices would include a new roof for the building, and much of the debate before the vote focused on whether the roof should be made of copper. In the end, the court decided to use the copper roof option, which carries a lifetime warranty. Problems with the clock tower include severe deterioration in the exterior wood façade, and, on the inside, noticeable water penetration in the plywood. A report from BFMJ noted, "The worst location is under the clock faces. Here, the wood stud framing and plywood have rotted almost completely away, leaving large holes in the façade. The worse occurs on the south and west faces, the predominant direction of the wind and weather." Other problems include wood framing and copper in the box gutter system that need rehabilitation. Several magistrates wondered whether the original copper roof's lifetime warranty could involve a rebate for the original work, which the Lexington engineering firm BFMJ declared was likely improperly installed. Gill said such a warranty would be pro-rated, and wondered if the people who ran the company that installed the original roof were still alive. The presentation was made by the engineering firm BFMJ, representatives of which said that their estimated costs were compiled by Congleton-Hacker, a Lexington company that's done multi-million-dollar construction projects at Baptist Health and the University of Kentucky. "In order to restore the clock tower, we would go and remove the rotted wood, put new wood in, and then wrap the entire thing in formed galvanized metal, and then paint it, so it would be extremely durable. It would look just like it looks now. That's probably a 20-year fix before you have to go up there and do anything again," said Derek Brooks of the Lexington architecture and design firm Lord, Aeck and Sargent. Judge-Executive John Coyle asked if the construction would cause traffic problems around the courthouse. BFMJ's Anthony Harvey said only a parking space or two would be taken, and that scaffolding would be erected during the four-month project. The metal structure inside the clock tower was in relatively good shape, Harvey said. Magistrate Jackie Brown wondered since the quoins themselves hadn't been fully examined, whether they could be sure how much they'd cost to repair or replace. Brooks pointed out the projection wasn't an official estimate, but said Congleton-Hacker had an excellent reputation for making conservative estimates. Later, when the prospect of bidding the construction work out to other companies arose, he noted that some companies deliberately underbid, then rely on change orders to up the price of the project. In the end, the decision was made to have BFMJ prepare an official estimate and send it to Wade. Coyle said the court could hold a special meeting next Tuesday to act on the matter. Gold seal for ambulance service Ambulance Director Freeman Bailey said the Woodford County Emergency Medical Service unit has been given a Gold rating from American Heart for their Mission Lifeline project. Bailey said the rating was based on EMS's work with heart attack and stroke patients.

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