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Old courthouse steps may get the boot

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HARTINGTON — Keeping in step with the times will mean removing steps from the south side of the courthouse at an entrance that is crumbling and no longer used.

Cedar County commissioners are taking the project one step at a time but were envisioning what the end result might look like at its regular meeting last week.

Randy Kathol, Hartington, met with the commissioners to discuss the work involved, which includes removing the crumbling stone steps and placing glass in the archway.

“It’s definitely seen its better days,” said Commissioner David McGregor after surveying the steps. “A lot of these are just going to crumble apart.”

The former entryway will then be refashioned into a conference room for attorneys to meet with their clients in a private setting.

“(Right now) they’re standing in the hallway, they’re standing down by the bathroom, so this space will be very useful,” McGregor said.

A major focus of the commissioners’ discussion was on keeping the archway as a focal point with much back and forth on the color of window framing.

“It’s a historical building so you have to keep that look,” said County Clerk David Dowling.

Dowling said he wishes the work could’ve started last week but most likely it will begin this Fall. Cost for the project is undetermined at this time.

The commissioners also discussed a bid by Karr Tuckpointing of Vinton, Iowa, to replace brick and complete tuck-pointing on the courthouse exterior for $197,000 - a number that the commissioners whistled at.

The bid included the replacement of 82 defective bricks on the northwest corner and fixing some exterior stress cracks, Dowling said.

He said tuck-pointing was last done more than 30 years ago and the commissioners agreed that the cost is part of the maintenance and upkeep required for the historical courthouse facility.

The work won’t start until next year and Dowling said the funds will be built into the budget with money used from the inheritance fund.

In other commissioner news, Treasurer Jean Wiebelhaus gave an update on distress warrants served this past year to collect back taxes.

The treasurer’s office issued 37 distress warrants that were served by the sheriff’s office to individuals totaling more than $25,000 in unpaid personal property tax. Of those 37 warrants, 33 were returned paid at more than $14,000.

Four warrants went unpaid for a total of $11,000.

“We’ve cleaned up a lot over the past few years,” she said.

At its meeting last week, the commissioners also:

- Set a budget hearing for 8 a.m., Tuesday, Sept. 14, and approved an additional one percent increase in restricted funds for budgeting.

- Received education on the proper signs to mark bridges and culverts by Road Superintendent Carla Schmidt.

- Appointed Gene Dickes, Fordyce, to the county zoning board, and approved conditional use permits and changes to zoning.

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