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Cabell bell tower repair costs increase

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JIM ROSS / For The State Journal JIM ROSS / For The State Journal

By JIM ROSS

For The State Journal

Repairs to the bell tower on the Cabell County Courthouse are running over budget — almost $100,000 over.

In a special meeting July 30, county commissioners approved a proposal by Angelina Stone & Marble of St. Clairsville, Ohio, to do additional work on the structure to ensure its safety. The work will cost the county $98,900 on top of the $246,725 contract the commission signed earlier this summer.

“It was a safety issue and a liability to the county,” said County Manager Chris Tatum. Tatum said the steel in the bell tower was so badly corroded that it could have collapsed, sending the 2,500-pound courthouse bell falling into the courthouse basement.

Commissioner Bob Bailey objected to the added cost. He said the problems with the structural steel and other deficiencies in the bell tower should have been caught during an inspection before the contract was advertised and awarded. Bailey said change orders can and should be avoided with proper planning in advance.

Among other things, the change order to the contract includes replacing structural steel that has rusted away, repairing the part of the courthouse dome where the bell tower is attached, placing new gold leaf on the dome and abating lead during the repair work.

Some of the steel beams holding the structure in place had sustained heavy rust damage in the century since the bell was put in place. Several of the beams had large holes in them. One had rusted away until it was thinner than a pencil.

The state is providing $100,000 toward the repairs through the West Virginia Courthouse Facilities Improvement Authority. The county is paying the remainder of the cost.

Tatum said the county has other money it can use to pay for the unexpected additional repair cost. That money could come from the carryover from the 2013-14 fiscal year or from the county’s contingency fund, he said.