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Commissioners evaluate building new courthouse

Sun Advocate community editor

The 47-year-old Carbon County Courthouse became a main tipoic of discussion at the commission meeting on Jan.19.

The building housing most of the county offices as well as the justice court was construcred in 1958 and is showing signs of its age. The roof is failing in several places, infrastructure systems are wearing out, the couthouse is not set up to handle technology and the building too small.

"If you look around the state, we have the worst county courthouse of any that now exist," pointed out clerk-auditor Bob Pero at the commission meeting. "There is no room for expansion and the maintenance on the building is getting extreme. Storage has become a real problem. For instance, the ladies restroom is the only place we have to store toilet tissue, so it is packed in there."

Many rural counties in Utah have relatively new courthouses. A number of the buildings, like Piute County's facility, were built with permanent community impact board (CIB) money.

"We are wondering if we should put something on the CIB list for this year sometime," said Pero. "I know we have a lot on there already, but we need to start on something soon."

The county should probably get a request on the final trimester of 2005 for planning money from the CIB, noted Commissioner Mike Milovich, who sits on the Utah Community Impact Board. Then the county could submit a construction funding request next year. He also pointed out that the county has a number of CIB projects pending already.

Following the discussion, the commission voted to place a request with the CIB for planning money for the building.

One problem the county will face in building a new courthouse will be selecting a site. Officials faced the same problem in the mid-1950s when the decision was made to build the existing courthouse.

After looking at alternative locations, officials decided to tear down the old courthouse and construct the new building on the site. The county administration moved into Price City Hall and the two local governments shared space for almost 18 months while the courthouse was constructed.

The county will have similar decisions to make if a new building is constructed, particularly if commissioners plan on using the present site.

Introducing a related matter at the Jan. 19 meeting, Commissioner Bill Krompel handed out a memo listing all the construction projects the county plans on starting in 2005. Many involve CIB funding.

"In all my years as a commissioner, I can't remember a time when we had this many projects going on all at once," said Krompel.

The projects include:

•Carbonville Road. The goal is to reconstruct and widen the road. A $3,050,00 federal highway grant has been obtained to fund improvements. The county will put in $550,000 while the CIB will contribute a $275,000 grant and a $275,000 zero-percent loan for the project.

•Westwood safe sidewalk and realignment of Westwood Boulevard-Fairgrounds Road intersection. Funding for the $100,000 project will come from the Carbon County Recreation and Transportation Special Service District.

•Spring Glen bridge replacement. The United States government awarded $560,000 in federal bridge replacement money and the county will pay $140,000 to complete the project.

•County road maintenance shop on Airport Road. The project will replace the shops on Carbonville Road. The CIB has awarded a $376,570 grant along with a a $1 million no-interest loan to complete the maintenance shop.

•Ridge Road. Built in the 1980s to accommodate coal-haul traffic, the highway was a toll road until Dec. 31, 2004. The road needs to be rehabilitated. The Utah Department of Transportation will fund the $1.4 million project.

•Rehabilitate the main runway lights at the airport. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has provided $150,000 for the project and the county has put in $7,500.

•Seal coat, crack seal and paint the secondary runway as well as the apron at the airport. The FAA granted $93,000 for the project and the county is putting in $9,000.

•Install a new transponder system at the airport. Krompel says that the Carbon County Airport will be the only rural airport in the state that will have an instrument landing system after this project is completed. The FAA has contributed $2 million to do this and the work is costing the county nothing.

•Parallel taxi way project. Part of this project is already complete and there will be design work done this year on finishing the rest in 2006. That design work will cost the FAA $150,000 with a local match of $8,000.

There are also other projects that may get started in 2005.

•Shooting range. The property has been purchased and work will soon begin on this site that is off of Wattis Road in southern Carbon County. The CIB gave the county a $750,000 grant and a $750,000 2.5 percent interest loan for the project.

•New ambulance garage. After a lot of turmoil last summer and fall about a purchased site for this facility, the county has decided to find another place to put the garage. The architect is on board, but a definite site still needs to be determined. The CIB gave the county a $275,000 grant and a $1,750,000 loan at 0 percent for this facility.

•Community exhibit expansion project. This will at the fairgrounds and will be a 13,000 square foot facility to host recreation type venues and exhibits. The CIB has awarded the county a $443,000 grant and the same amount in a no interest 20 year loan for the project.

There are also some other items on the list as well including a fairgrounds softball complex, a six acre fishing pond that may be near the fairgrounds in cooperation with the Division of Wildlife Resources and in the future an outdoor international soccer field.

In other business the commission also took the recommendation of the Restaurant Tax Advisory Committee and granted the Castle Country Regional Information Center that is located in the College of Eastern Utah Prehistoric Museum $16,000 for operating funds. However the commission also took the recommendation of the committee that the money in subsequent years become partnering money and that the CCRIC should look into other ways to supplement the funds that the committee and commission grant.

The commission also agreed with a decision by the committee to table a request from the Helper Western Mining and Railroad Museum for $70,000 that they want to use for expansion of their facility. The committee asks that Helper come up with architectural plans and engineering on the project so that the needed money can be better evaluated. They also said they were concerned about the attendance at the museum and the stability of that attendance over the long term, particularly if the new interchange is constructed on nearby Highway 6.

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