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COURTHOUSE NEEDS COSTLY RENOVATIONS

The extra space Box Elder County will have when state courts move out of the County Courthouse into the brand new State Courts Building - hopefully in September - is a mixed blessing.

The county estimates $1.8 million is needed to renovate the 1890s vintage building and bring it up to Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements.First priority is the leaky roof, which possibly dates back to the early 1900s. Improved access for the disabled, cracked plaster, peeling paint and worn carpet are among things needing attention.

Even the huge trees in front of the courthouse have been found to be diseased and not expected to live more than five years. New trees need to be planted now to be big enough by the time the old ones have to be removed.

According to ADA requirements, buildings on the National Historical Register may be granted some exemptions under ADA if those improvements detract from the building's historic look. However, dedicated parking, access paths, access doors, accessible restrooms and appropriate signs are still required.

The last courthouse renovation project was completed in 1978, when an elevator was installed. Since then, Jensen said, 17 years of piecemeal repairs have let much of the building fall into disrepair and he'd like to see all necessary repairs and renovations done at once.

The problem, commissioners agree, is money. Bonding is a possibility as are government and foundation grants. Volunteer work, such as in planting new trees, is another option.