By KERRY CRAIG
News-Telegram Staff Writer
The elevator installed in the Hopkins County Courthouse during the renovation about 10 years ago has had intermittent problems during that time, but a recent hydraulic leak has now taken the lift out of operation, according to County Judge Chris Brown.
“The main lift, the jack that makes it go up and down, runs about 40 feet into the ground,” Brown said. “There is just a hydraulic oil leak that doesn't let [elevator] stay up. What will happen is, it will get to the top floor and will sink about a foot within about an hour's time.”
The elevator has only been in service for about 10 years and the county has had a maintenance agreement with the manufacturer in effect, but the cost of the faulty hydraulic is expected to be in the neighborhood of $25,000 and not covered by the service contract.
The architectural firm that designed the courthouse restoration a decade ago has been consulted to make sure the elevator was installed correctly.
The elevator was built specifically for the courthouse, and the judge said with the specific part having to be manufactured, it might take another two weeks or more to get the lift back into operation.
The hydraulic ram that raises and lowers the elevator car will have to be removed in pieces and, Brown said, each piece will be closely inspected.
“A lot of the cost is going to be labor,” he said. “This pipe is 40 feet in the ground,” he said. “When they pull it out, they are going to have to pull up a section and cut it, pull up a section and cut it. So, we're going to be checking it for defects.”
The problem, however, could be anything from just a bad weld in one of the sections to accelerated deterioration from ground water under the courthouse.
“So, we don't know what caused it,” Judge Brown said. “We will be looking very closely as they pull it out to figure that out.”
Brown said the county commissioners felt pretty good about the $25,000 price tag on the repair.
“But we don't feel good about the fact it has only lasted 10 to 12 years,” he said. “We will be looking at that as we go forward. Right now, the important thing is to get it fixed and get it back in operation.”
With the elevator out of service, the judge said the county would be doing everything possible to assist people coming into the courthouse who need the elevator.
“If anybody has any business at the courthouse, call ahead first,” he said. “We actually had a small hearing down in the basement the other day, so we will do what we need to do to accommodate everybody.”
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