County Approves Seismic Courthouse Study

Benton_County_Court_HouseAfter months of little movement, the county is taking small steps towards solidifying the Benton County Courthouse against seismic destruction.

The county has now approved $40,000 to fund a more thorough, newer standard of seismic review than had been performed in the past. This analysis will solidify the nebulous numbers surrounding the cost to retrofit the courthouse and will provide even more information about the safety issues of the building. Miller Consulting Engineers has been tapped for the work with an estimated $39,950 for completion of the first phase.

Public Works Director Josh Wheeler, who held a presentation in January on the potential dangers facing the historic building and its occupants, detailed the steps that have been made since then.

“We sought a consultant and that consultant’s proposal has come in,” Wheeler said. “We have provided that proposal to the Board of Commissioners and it was on the agenda for their meeting on Aug. 18, where they approved the funding for Phase 1 of the courthouse seismic upgrade. In this phase, they will do all the analysis and provide cost estimates of improvements, so that we can determine if we can find a funding mechanism to do those improvements.”

And, most importantly, crack watch continues on. Wheeler and his team promised to keep an eye on the cracks in the building, and Wheeler states that no movement has been made on those cracks, which is a good sign.

 Wheeler expects the analysis to be fully finished by the end of this year and the next steps will come soon after, once the county determines how the funding for retrofitting will be acquired.

By Nathan Hermanson

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