Richland County officials still have no target date for getting at least one of the two public elevators in the lobby of the county courthouse and administration building working again. The elevators, which were part of the original building construction in 1968, have not been working for the past two months because of problems with the controls.
County commissioners met Thursday with County Maintenance Supervisor Josh Hicks to discuss a number of issues with the elevators as well as purchases involving the computerized control system for the heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems in many of the county-owned buildings.
Hicks told the board that efforts to bring the east elevator back to service are waiting for a control panel, which is being repaired at a factory in Wisconsin.
“It’s been expedited, but there’s (just) one old guy who knows how to work on it is what I’ve been told,” he said. “They’re eating the expedite (fee) this time because it should have been fixed.”
The county did do some repairs and upgrades about five years ago, but Hicks said more work should have been done at that time.
Since the elevator outage, Commissioner’s Clerk Stacey Crall said people in wheelchairs or who need assistance with physical access to parts of the building are directed to come into the commissioners’ office on the first floor where accommodations can be arranged.
“We have made various accommodations for people who need assistance. One is adult probation (personnel) and bailiffs are extremely busy taking people around and to the internal prisoner elevator that’s used to transport prisoners,” she said. “We have actually had two court hearings in our board room.“
The main reason for Hicks’ meeting with the commissioners was to ask for approval of a $16,980 contract with Standard Plumbing and Heating to install air conditioning in the elevator control room at the courthouse. Hicks explained the air conditioning will keep the room at 75 degrees in order to protect new electronic controls that will be installed as part of an update that will start late this year.
“We’re just trying to get it locked in because we originally had it quoted in February and it came back at $14,900 and due to inflation and everything it’s gone up to $16,980,” Hicks said. “The big thing is getting the stuff ordered so it doesn’t go up in price anymore.”
Commissioners voted in May to approve a contract with TK Elevator Corporation of Westerville to make repairs to the main public elevators using $641,281 in American Rescue Plan Act funds to pay for the work. The project will be a complete modernization of the elevators including internal structural repairs, replacement of electric panels and new computer controls and cosmetic upgrades to the cabs that include new walk panels, LED lighting and new flooring.
Hicks said the east elevator should be functional once the computer board comes back from Wisconsin and that the major “overhaul” project should start in December. He noted that work will start on the west elevator and that the upgrade for the east elevator will start after that is complete. Each elevator upgrade will take three months to complete.
Hicks also asked commissioners to approve an agreement with Control Concepts of Ohio for ongoing support of a computerized system that allows him to remotely monitor and control HVAC systems in most county-owned buildings except for the jail and the Peoples Building, which have separate control systems. The contract will run from Aug. 1, 2023, through July 31, 2026, at an annual cost of $5,850 with annual increases not to exceed 5%.
A final request was for the purchase of three new computers for the maintenance office at a cost of $5,153. Funds will come from the department budget.
Hicks said IT was in last year and made some adjustments to the computers but they’re still not working right.
“It helped but one computer doesn’t work correctly and the other is really, really slow,” he said. “They also recommended getting a new one for mine because it’s old too.”
Commissioners unanimously approved all three of Hicks’ requests.