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Details laid out on two key projects

August 9, 2011

DETAILS ... Providing details to the Adams County Commissioners on Monday about the latest improvement plans for the courthouse is Dave Sholl, vice-president of the Schenkel Shultz architectural firm in Fort Wayne. He holds pictures of the courthouse while facing (from left) commissioners Doug Bauman, Kim Fruechte, and Ed Coil. (Photo by Eric Mann)

    Reports were received by the Adams County Commissioners on Monday on two county building projects: repairing the upper parts of the courthouse and a proposed city-county office building in downtown on Madison St. across from the courthouse.
    Dave Sholl, vice-president of the Schenkel Shultz architectural firm in Fort Wayne, delivered the information. He was assisted by associate Cory Miller, a native and former resident of Decatur. Tim Ehlerding of Decatur was present as a representative of the Michael Kinder and Sons construction company of Fort Wayne.
    Sholl first talked about the courthouse work, which would replace windows, fix old gutters and decorative tin, replace old exterior slate, etc. The commissioners agreed to spend $600 for a test to see if paint on that part of the edifice is lead-based.
    Sholl said a pre-bid conference for various bidders has tentatively been set for August 22, with bids due by August 31 and bids to be awarded by the commissioners in September.
    He said timing is vital so weatherproofing and waterproofing are done before winter.
    Sholl added that he has contacted six or seven companies, most of them in Ohio, about bidding on the courthouse project.
    In regard to the suggested city-county building, Sholl offered the county a contract to pay Schenkel Shultz $34,000 for its services, including drawings and floor plan ideas, making cost estimates, etc.
    Further work, said Sholl, would entail meeting with the affected city and county officials to obtain office space requirements and office layout concepts, examining parking needs, studying ideas for a park on Madison St. between the new building and the courthouse as well as a connecting all-weather passageway between the two sites, and making an overall cost estimate.
    The above preliminary tasks would be done to prepare for public hearings at which taxpayers would hear the plans and be asked for their viewpoints.
    The Kinder firm could be involved, said Ehlerding, if the commissioners name it as the construction manager for the new building. Ehlerding said one goal would be to use as many local contractors as possible.
    The commissioners made no decision on the proposed Schenkel Shultz contract because, as Commissioner Ed Coil said, county officials must talk to city officials as soon as possible to see where they stand on a unified building. County Attorney Mark Burry said he will talk to city leaders right away.
    Burry also said that if $34,000 is approved for payment, the county would probably pay two-thirds and Decatur would pay one-third because the county would likely use about two-thirds of the new structure, with the city using the rest. He pointed out that the basic idea for a shared city-county building is saving money that would otherwise be spent if the county and the city built separate structures.
    The urgency of the proposal, which would involve creating new homes for Adams Superior Court and the county probation department, was expressed at the meeting by superior court judge Patrick R. Miller, who said that if the project is delayed, some money must quickly be put toward repairing problems in the 106-year-old building that the court and the probation office inhabit.
    "My building's suffering!" Judge Miller said very simply.
    If Schenkel Shultz would be hired for the full interior and exterior design of the new building, it would ask for a fee equal to 6.5 percent of the total construction cost.
    If the Kinder firm is picked as the construction manager, Ehlerding said the fee would be an amount equal to three percent of the total construction cost.
    At present, the overall estimated cost of erecting a city-county building has been pegged at around $6 million.

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