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Courthouse decking repair approved

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Scaled-back repairs to the street-level decking of the Comanche County Courthouse will be under way soon.

The Comanche County commissioners approved an agreement with S Construction to repair five columns supporting the decking for a total of $24,000 during a regular weekly meeting Monday morning.

Central District Commissioner Ron Kirby, who brought the need for the repairs to the commissioners earlier this year, said the small price tag is due to county officials deciding to take care of the problem in increments, instead of all at once.

Kirby ordered an engineer’s inspection in August, after county workers noticed piers holding up the decking that were damaged due to sinking.

Kirby said there is no immediate danger to the structural integrity of the courthouse but the problem needs to be corrected within the next few years.

Similar repairs were made in 2006, in the same area of the decking, during the courthouse’s approximately $700,000 renovation project, Kirby said.

Different support piers and beams were replaced then be- cause of sinking. Kirby said the engineer told him the recurring problem is due to a design flaw in the almost 37-year-old courthouse building.

Approximately 35 piers will eventually need to be replaced, Kirby said.

The initial estimates to have the entire repair project done at once ranged between $100,000 and $140,000, so Kirby said the decision was made to repair the columns a few at a time.

The county will have five of the columns repaired this year, he said. More will be repaired in future years.

“I was pleasantly surprised to see this come in at such a low bid,” Kirby said.

S Construction of Lawton was the company that originally built the decking, the Central District Commissioner added.

Kirby estimated the work will begin within the next few weeks and should be completed within about six weeks of the start date.

In other business, the commissioners learned recent increases in state revenue will directly benefit the Comanche County Juvenile Bureau. Rick Lowe, director of the Juvenile Bureau, told commissioners the state notified him recently his agency will receive about $60,000 more in state funding this fiscal year than originally promised.

Lowe said the state slashed funding for the Juvenile Bureau by about $120,000 in 2009. He said the state hopes to restore that $120,000 to the bureau’s funding next fiscal year.

After the meeting, Kirby told The Lawton Constitution the county may be able to lessen its funding to the agency for fiscal 2013 if the state money is added to the Juvenile Bureau’s budget for fiscal for that year.

“That would certainly lighten the load for us,” Kirby said.

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