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Morning Sun
  • Grant for new courthouse elevator shot down again

  • Once again Crawford County has been turned down in a grant application for funds to replace the aging courthouse elevator.

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  • Once again Crawford County has been turned down in a grant application for funds to replace the aging courthouse elevator.
    Back in 2011, Sandy Erbe, planning and development consultant with the Southeast Kansas Regional Planning Commission, told county commissioners that she felt there was a good chance that a Kansas Small Cities Community Development Block Grant could be obtained to cover a sizable amount of the replacement cost.
    That first application, for $219,450, was turned down. However, the county had pledged only the minimum amount required for matching funds of 25 percent, or about $75,000.
    Commissioners decided in October of 2012 to re-apply for the grant, but this time pledge to put up half the amount needed, around $150,000. Tom Ragonese, county special projects coordinator, said he thought this could help the county obtain the grant.
    Unfortunately, it  didn’t help enough. The word has come back, and the word is no.
    The question is, what does the county do now?
    “I’ve contacted the Regional Planning Commission and asked them to shake the bushes and see if there’s anything out there grant-wise to help us,” Ragonese said during the Tuesday commission meeting.
    He said he had also contacted an architect who had been helping with the grant proposal to learn about ways to get the project cost down.
    “We were talking $330,000 total for the elevator,” Ragonese said. “We were looking at a free-standing elevator with a glass enclosure on the first floor, but the architect said that putting in a shaft and conventional elevator would cost less.”
    Plans may also need to be scaled back or eliminated to have a back door on the elevator for use in delivering inmates to the Crawford County District Court on the third floor of the courthouse.
    Whatever is put in will have to be bigger than the elevator that’s already there, and Ragonese said this will require digging a hole in the basement floor.
    “The new elevator will have to be bigger to be ADA-compliant,” Ragonese said. “You can’t put in a small elevator like we have now.”
    Also, the current elevator, installed in 1966, is so old that parts are no longer available.
    “They have been able to recycle old parts, but we’re reaching the time we can’t do that any more,” Ragonese said.
    Commissioners agreed that something needs to done as soon as possible.
    “I rode the elevator this morning, and she’s going to be dead in a heartbeat,” commissioner Carl Wood said.

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