Courthouse bell tower to receive more wind damage repair

Published 3:47 pm Wednesday, March 6, 2024

Early last year, following a significant windstorm and after an inspection of the county courthouse bell tower by Boyle County Public Works Staff, some minor damage was identified and repaired. At that time and over the ensuing months, one column was noticed to have shifted out of line.

Recently, in the interest of all safety precautions, further cracks were noticed. Judge Executive Trille Bottom immediately ordered the hiring of a licensed structural engineer for a professional assessment of the bell tower.

Since Boyle County’s historic courthouse dates back to 1862, while the structural engineer was on site, it was cost effective to have a thorough, cellar to roofline assessment of our 162 year-old courthouse.

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During that initial inspection, the engineer noticed that among several dozen huge truss beams, a few were noted as having some level of wear. To gain an even higher level of confidence, the county got a second opinion.

Led by Emergency Management Director Brian Caldwell and Public Works Staff Mark Gordon, the second engineer went up into the bell tower, and his analysis paralleled the first engineer’s evaluation. While on-site Feb. 23, the engineer went from the courthouse rafters, down through all floors of the building to the basement and cellar areas for a thorough and complete evaluation.

During debriefing, a commitment was made to immediately engage a structural contractor to make all needed repairs to the tower. In that process, due to the initial findings of wind damage and to the advantage of Boyle County taxpayers, Bottom ordered that an insurance claim be pursued, rather than utilizing tax funds for the repairs.

Bottom stated, “Our magnificent and historic Boyle County Courthouse is second to none among Kentucky’s oldest surviving pre-Civil War governmental structures, having survived the Perryville Battle – known across America as ‘The Gettysburg of the West,’ along with many other storms, such as we experienced when the tornado struck Boyle County two Decembers ago. Its Greek Revival elevation is a statement of its significance. And its close proximity to Constitution Square, where action there produced statehood, helping to open up America’s Westward Movement. The massive foundation stones, quarried right here within the county and bricks fired on the outskirts of town validate all that we have invested in cautiously getting two parallel engineering inspections to assure that our 32,000+ Constituents will enjoy this architecturally beautiful courthouse for years to come.”

Repairs will begin as soon as an appropriate company is brought on board. While some roping off of the Main Street area will be needed during the restoration process, since that space is not used for public access, there should be no impediment to daily operations as the public comes and goes for the duration of repairs.