New roof, HVAC system on horizon for Hillcrest

The Laurens County Council voted Tuesday night at its regular meeting to begin the bidding process for  a new roof and HVAC system for the county’s Judicial Complex at Hillcrest.

Council members voted previously to approve the new roof and was asked to fund it Tuesday night, but council members decided to replace some 27 air-conditioning units that sit atop the building prior to putting on the new roof.

“I think we’re getting the cart before the horse,” said County Council Chairman Joe Wood, noting the potential for damage to the new roof when installing the new HVAC units later on.

Laurens County Director of Public Works Rob Russian presented a cost analysis of the project with the county’s agenda packet for Tuesday night’s meeting.

The project for a modified asphalt built-up roof is $813,000. The original plan for a flexible sheet membrane roof was changed after council voted against the initial plan to replace the building’s HVAC system. That plan was part of an energy-efficiency study with Trane Heating and Cooling and would have involved loan agreement with the company.

Russian said both projects are overdue.

“After evaluating the condition of the HVAC units located on the Hillcrest building roof and the amount of foot traffic that the roof was receiving, we were forced to reconsider our choice of building materials,” Russian wrote in his report to council.

The project includes $750,000 in construction costs, $3,000 for thermal scanning, $45,000 in professional services and $15,000 for removal of areas of the old roof.

Russian estimated the cost of replacing the HVAC system to be in the $500,000 range.

Money for the cost of the new roof would come from leftover funds from the bond issued to build the new county administration building at Hillcrest as well as reserve funds, Russian said. Council members also considered establishing a new bond to cover costs above that of the leftover funds from the older bond.

Russian wrote that upgrades needed to handle foot traffic on the flexible sheet membrane roof would push the cost of that option near to the cost of the “more desirable” modified asphalt built-up roof.

Russian consulted Irmo-based Shepard & Associates on the project.

The Hillcrest building, which houses the Laurens County offices and judiciary courtrooms and offices, is around 50 years old and last had the roof replaced about 20 years ago, according to the report from Shepard & Associates.

In other business:

• Council was to consider a proposal regarding the nearly 200-year-old Historic Laurens Courthouse located on the city square.

The first phase of the project, which was to be presented by Russian and former County Administrator Ernie Segars, is not to exceed $25,000.

“Recent events have brought to light the current condition of the building,” Russian wrote in the proposal to council. “While the building remains in overall good condition, the exterior of the building is showing some signs of decay.”

The problems include moisture inside the building due to leaks, cracked stucco and non-functioning gutters.

DP3 Architects estimated the initial phase of the project to cost about $22,000. The complete renovation of the courthouse could run in the millions of dollars. Segars said he was prepared to help secure grants for the project.

• Councilman Stewart Jones was to nominate retired Laurens County Sheriff’s Office employee Carole L. Knight to receive the Henry Laurens Award for Service.

In his nomination, Jones wrote that Knight served the LCSO from 1980-2017 under six different sheriff administrations.

“Her outstanding service helped ensure that various courts ran smoothly for nearly four decades,” Jones wrote in his nomination. “Carole also consistently worked to ensure that individuals and families were treated in an appropriate and respectful manner.”

The Henry Laurens Award for Service was established by county council and is the most prestigious award bestowed by the county to its citizens.

Semi-retired Clerk to Council Betty Ann Walsh was presented the Henry Laurens Award this past month after being nominated by Councilman Ted Nash.

Walsh served at clerk to council for more than 25 years before “retiring” last year. At the behest of several council members, she returned to the position in a part-time role.

• Council members were to consider first reading of a new noise ordinance as presented by the Laurens County Planning Commission. The new ordinance would replace ordinance No. 634 already on the books.

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