Noise and exhaust fumes from the Jackson County Highway Department shop often affect those working in the office.
Superintendent Jerry Ault and office manager Julie Wehmiller always have thought it would be nice to have a separate building.
A couple of buildings were scheduled to be demolished to make way for the new Jackson County Judicial Center in Brownstown, but Ault recently suggested to county commissioners that one of them be moved to his department.
He said the Jackson County Planning and Zoning building could be moved there to temporarily house its two employees until they have a new office. Then it could be used as office and storage space for the highway department.
“It would work perfect for everybody,” Ault said.
The commissioners opted to allow him to seek bids to determine the cost to make the move.
“Whenever Jerry Hounshel was still commissioner, he was at the shop one day, and if you come there on the wrong day, you can’t even hardly breathe because of exhaust fumes,” Ault said. “That shop is way outdated, but I wasn’t going to try to hit anybody up for money for a new office, but Jerry Hounshel even said at that time we need a separate office from that building.”
The original plan also called for demolition of the county public defender’s office. That’s still scheduled because it would be too costly to move with it having several additions and a basement. The planning and zoning office will be simpler to move because it only has crawl space.
Morris Thomas, a project manager with Garmong Construction Services, said it’s most critical to move the planning and zoning office so judicial center construction can begin by the end of August.
“From a steel erection standpoint, it does give us a much better staging area to be able to erect that side of the building,” Thomas said of the site of the planning and zoning office at the corner of Walnut and Sugar streets.
“Realistically, we can work around buildings,” he said. “The issue really becomes a safety issue and potential contingency items.”
Thomas said money is in the contract for demolition, but it’s part of a lump sum, so that could be negotiated out of the contract.
He recommended a deduct change order to the contract so the money would be thrown back into a contingency that the county is carrying as part of the bond.
“We’ve got flags out there, and we’ve got a lot of construction to do, so obviously, I want to defend that contingency all through construction as much as possible for you guys,” he told commissioners. “It’s certainly within the realm of an item that would be considered a contingency item. It’s just early in the project to be letting go of that large of a sum of contingency.”
The Jackson County Council recently appropriated $75,000 for the commissioners to use at their discretion to find temporary office space for the two dislocated offices. The public defender’s office will be moved into a building near the courthouse in Seymour.
Commissioners President Matt Reedy said the planning and zoning building may need a new outside air conditioning unit. Building Commissioner Conner Barnette said the conference table and chairs from his office can be included in the relocation of the building and remain there because he won’t need them.
Ault will share the bids he receives for moving the planning and zoning building during the next commissioners meeting, set for 6 p.m. Aug. 1 at the Jackson County Courthouse Annex in Brownstown.