Courthouse trees

There is a more clear view of the east side of the Piatt County Courthouse after the removal of two trees.

An HVAC fix for the 15-year-old Piatt County Public Safety Building (jail) is once again being researched, with an initial cost estimated of around $81,000.

“It would go from two compressors to four,” said County Maintenance Supervisor Doug Winder. “It was originally designed to have four compressors. That would convert it to original specs and bring it up to current technology.”

The structure has battled frequent and costly air conditioning repairs since the jail was completed in 2004. County officials have claimed for years that the building was designed for a total of four compressors, but that two larger ones were installed instead. But since the rest of the system was installed with four units in mind, they say the load can be too much and causes issues.

Winder estimated HVAC repair costs had totaled around $56,000 since 2013, mostly in compressor issues. He told the building and grounds committee on Sept. 4 that the tentative bid would include conversion to more modern coolant.

In addition to less projected maintenance cost, Winder said the work would make for a more efficient system.

“It would be more consistent, comfortable, and we’d have redundancy, so for whatever reason the system could still run at least half,” he said. “It would function as designed.

Additional bids are being sought.

Power outage

A power outage also caused issues at the PSB on Sept. 1 when a generator did not automatically kick in after power was lost. Winder said that was the result of blown fuse, which was replaced.

County Board Chairman Ray Spencer thanked maintenance staff for the weekend work after a 5:30 a.m. callout.

“I told Doug we appreciate that this was taken care of on a Sunday morning, and that he should also express our gratitude to Richard (Hedges) and Matt (Lee) for assisting him,” noted Spencer. Hedges and Lee are also on the county maintenance staff.

Trees removed at courthouse

The view of the east side of the courthouse is more clear after two dying trees were removed recently. Stumps will be removed later.

County officials are accepting donations for tree replacements at the courthouse. Those interested can email Winder at

In other action, the building and grounds committee:

–heard from Winder that all valves in the courthouse pipes had been replaced. Some valves malfunctioned last winter, causing leaks into building offices during the heating season;

–was told the remodeling of a state’s attorney’s office is nearly complete; and

–received a report from Mental Health Center Director Tony Kirkman, who said he is trying to get to the bottom of generator malfunctions at his building. He has received conflicting reports on whether the current generator can accommodate the building’s full load, and noted the issue needs resolved since the building is a designated heating and cooling center.