About Us | Advertise | RSS | Wed, Apr 01 03:57

  • Corydon Instant Print

Georgetown must fix town hall or move

Offices to relocate into FEMA trailer

June 04, 2008
Just recently, the Georgetown Town Council discussed purchasing a building to relocate the town hall, but the deal fell through after the building was sold to another party. Now, the town has 30 days to vacate the town hall or upgrade it to meet state guidelines and make a safe working environment for town employees.

An upstairs window is pulling away from the wall on the front of the Georgetown Town Hall. (Photos by Lee Cable)
The town recently asked INsafe, a program that is a part of the Department of Labor, to take a look at the town's maintenance shop and advise the town of any corrections that need to be made. INsafe acts as consultants to help facilities meet Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirements and maintain a safe workplace.

When the shop was inspected, only a few small items needed to be addressed to bring the facility into compliance with OSHA standards. However, when INsafe officials made a stop at the town hall to check on some forms that needed to be filed, they also checked that building to be sure it met OSHA requirements. Their report was not a favorable one.

The town hall, a former bank building, was built in 1909. In 1940, a huge safe was installed on the first floor and an addition was added to the rear of the building. During the years the building was used as a bank, there was an apartment upstairs on the second floor that was rented out.

Through the years, the roof has leaked and, although it was repaired and replaced several times, there was water damage to the structure due to water seeping into the mortar joints of the bricks on the upper level. Those bricks have now begun to fall out of the walls, which has weakened the front wall of the building and has caused an interior wall to be lower than its adjoining exterior wall, which creates stress on the whole front of the building. Some of the windows have pulled away from the brick due to the shifting of the walls. The water seeping into the building has also increased the opportunity for mold to form behind the old wallpaper.

"We knew this had to come to a head at some point," Councilman Everett Pullen said. "But the town just doesn't have the funds right now to do what needs to be done."

INsafe made a list of more than 18 problems with the building that have to be corrected — some within the next 30 days — if the town continues to use the building as a place where employees work and where the general public has access. The list includes several problems with the electrical wiring, holes in the floors, and emergency exits. The old safe was also scrutinized due the fact that if anyone became locked in the safe, the old fan system that was designed to supply air to the safe in an emergency is questionable.

The stairway leading to the second story of the Georgetown Town Hall shows how the building, built in 1909, has deteriorated through the years.
"If we can't get these things taken care of, we have to be out of the building in 30 days," Pullen said. "It needs a new roof, and we don't even have the money for that. Actually, the only options we have are to knock the building down and build a new one, or rent a building, or buy some land and build elsewhere in town. And we're strapped for cash, so we'll just have to work out something to get by for a while."

Doug Cook, Georgetown's clerk-treasurer, contacted Congressman Baron Hill's office, Reps. Bill Cochran and Paul Robertson, and even Gov. Mitch Daniels trying to find financial help for the town. Hill's office was able to find a Federal Emergency Management Agency trailer that the town could use for temporary offices. Last week, town officials drove to Rushville to look at the trailer to see if it would meet the town's needs.

"John Zody, with Baron Hill's office, came through for us," Cook said. "He was able to find a mobile home the town could use. We'll have to pay to have it brought from Rushville and get it set up, but it will give us a place to put town offices and employees that will be safe. We should be able to get it within the next few days."

The town plans to put the mobile home in the parking lot of the existing town hall and hook up the needed utilities.

"We want the town employees to be safe," Pullen said. "We know there's mold in the old building, and we're not sure about any asbestos that may be there. But there's no reason for us to put $30,000 or $40,000 in this building."

"And, we have to have a place to hold meetings that's safe also," Councilman Aaron Striegel added. "We have a lot on our plates right now. We're working on a sign ordinance, an animal ordinance, sewer issues, getting the town cleaned up, and now the town hall, which is going to cost a lot of money that we didn't plan on spending."

The council has discussed the possibilities of where to hold monthly meetings, but nothing has been decided yet.

The council has contacted Georgetown Christian Church, Georgetown Optimist Club and Georgetown Elementary School about meeting space and will make a decision.

Email Link
Schuler Bauer
Barbara Shaw
Corydon Instant Print
News links
04 - 01 - 20
Bennett and Bennett Insurance
2020 This is Harrison County