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Replacing the antiquated heating and cooling units in Trousdale County’s century-old courthouse will cost an estimated $820,000. The county is looking to use federal relief money to shoulder the cost.

Trousdale County’s Commission will vote Monday on approving an $820,000 estimate for replacing the heating and cooling units at the old courthouse.

At the County Buildings Committee meeting on Jan. 13, County Mayor Stephen Chambers discussed the estimate with commissioners and the need for repairs to the century-old building.

While the courthouse is no longer used for its original purpose, the County Commission still holds meetings there and the Election Commission will be moving into the building at some point in the near future. Other uses have previously been discussed as well.

Representatives from Trane Co. looked over the building and came up with the estimate.

“Based on the system that’s over 50 years old, we’ve put together replacing the existing system and also increased filtration and other items that make it eligible for American Rescue funds,” said Brian Bolin, Account Manager for Trane.

Trousdale County is expected to receive almost $5.2 million from the American Rescue Plan passed in 2021, and improving air quality of existing facilities to make them less likely to spread COVID is considered an acceptable use for funds under current U.S. Treasury guidance.

Bolin noted that the current system has to be switched from heating to cooling and can not do both at a time. “In the fall and spring when there are swing days, you can’t switch,” he noted.

An updated system would eliminate that problem, he said, and also make the building considerably more energy efficient.

“This probably will match up with the historical aspects of the building and retain them more than any other system,” said commissioner Dwight Jewell, who noted that the county had looked at other possibilities as well. “Plus it was probably the most efficient system there is for this configuration and I think it would serve us well.”

Chambers said he had received estimates from two other companies. He did not list them but said the estimates were similar to the one from Trane.

Committee members voted to advance the proposal to the Budget & Finance Committee for future consideration. During Tuesday’s meeting, that group opted to recommend the measure to the full Commission. Since it uses American Rescue Plan funds, a budget amendment will not be required but a vote of the Commission will suffice instead.

The committee also received an update on improvements to the courthouse for the Election Commission from Public Works Director Cliff Sallee. Painting and sealing is done, the lights have been reworked and replacing the flooring is still in the process of being completed, he said.

The Election Commission had previously given a deadline of Feb. 1 to have the courthouse office ready to move in, given that there are three elections scheduled in 2022. Chambers said the county was unlikely to meet that deadline and that the election office would probably stay in place until after the November 2022 election.

Committee members also advanced to the County Commission a request for qualifications for a new criminal justice center. If approved, the county would solicit bids to construct a new facility. Asked what might be done with the old jail, Jewell said he felt there was no need to make such a decision immediately.

Chambers also presented a request from the county’s Health Department to look into expanding the current facility on East Main Street. The mayor said he felt American Rescue Plan funding could also be used for such a purpose as it fit directly with the law’s language. He added that he had also received a letter from the Tennessee Department of Health concerning a potential grant opportunity that could be used instead.

A letter from County Health Director Adalberto Valdez estimated that the Health Department would benefit from adding two clinical rooms and a storage room, totaling around 720 square feet. The ventilation system also needs looking at, the mayor said.

“This would be easy to tie to COVID, that they need this extra space to work with,” committee chairman Richard Harsh said.

The mayor asked the committee to hold off on any action until he could get more information on ARP and other grant requirements.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-450-5756 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com.

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