Morning Sun
  • County seeks courthouse elevator grant

  • The Crawford County Courthouse elevator is antiquated, difficult to repair and does not come close to meeting ADA standards.

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  • The Crawford County Courthouse elevator is antiquated, difficult to repair and does not come close to meeting ADA standards.
    A year ago, Sandy Erbe, planning and development consultant with the Southeast Kansas Regional Planning Commission, told Crawford County Commissioners that there was a good chance that a Kansas Small Cities Community Development Block Grant could be obtained to cover a good chunk of the estimated $292,000 it would cost to replace the elevator.
    Unfortunately, the chance wasn’t good enough and the grant was turned down.
    Erbe was back before the commission Tuesday morning to provide an update on the project.
    “We’re re-applying for the grant,” she said. “I’ll do the paperwork and come back to you next week.”
    Erbe said she had talked over the telephone with the state officials responsible for the grant to find out what went wrong the first time.
    “They want more in-depth information, and Tom Ragonese is getting it for  me,” she said. “When you submit a grant and get turned down, you learn more. I still think this is a good cause and the design we have is good and fits well with the building. The engineer has tweaked the plan a little bit.”
    Another factor is how much money the county is willing to put forward for the project.
    The grant request was for $219,450, but the county had to pledge matching funds and the minimum amount required was 25 percent, or about $73,500.
    “We need to kick around if we want to up our percentage,” said commissioner Linda Grilz. “I believe we need to look at 50 percent to get us into consideration with projects similar to ours.”
    That would be around $150,000.
    “We could finance our portion with lease-purchase and spread it out over three years,” said county clerk Don Pyle.
    Tom Ragonese, county special  projects coordinator, said he thought raising the county’s percentage of matching funds could help obtain the grant.
    “Now the CDBG is looking for the bucks,” he said. “It used to be they didn’t look that hard at money, and you could do in-kind services.”
    Ragonese had also investigated the possibility of getting some funds through the  Kansas State Historical Society.
    “There is little or no choice of that,” he said. “They have $1 million to spend and applications totaling around $4 million. If we wanted to put on a roof to save a building, we might have a chance. Right now they’re using their money to fund projects to keep these old buildings enclosed against the weather.”
    The elevator situation will likely become more critical, according to Ragonese.
    “The people doing maintenance  now are wonderful,” he said. “They make new parts for the elevator, and scour the United States for parts, but some day they won’t be able to find anything.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Also, Ragonese added, the State of Kansas does not have elevator inspection at this time, but is working toward it.
    “If that happens, we will not pass, unless they put in some kind of grandfather clause, which they do not normally do,” he said. “They will red tag it and tell us we can use all the rest of the building except the elevator.”
    Erbe said that the deadline for grant applications is Nov. 1, and the county should know by January if  the grant  has been approved.
    “If  it is awarded, I’ll start environmental studies immediately, and then the project can go out for bids,” she said.
    Next commission meeting will be at 10 a.m. Friday when Judy Freeman, county zoning administrator, will bring in two requests for zoning variances.
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