COLUMBIANA COUNTY Federal government weighs application for $2.7 million to renovate courthouse

Officials are hopeful the project can start before year's end.
LISBON -- So far, an effort to remodel Columbiana County's courthouse is on track, and commissioners say it could grow in scope.
The county is seeking to borrow about $2.7 million from the federal government for the undertaking.
A loan application for that amount is now before the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which has funds available for development in rural counties.
The application stands a good chance of being approved, said Judge C. Ashley Pike of county common pleas court.
Word on the loan application should be received in about two months, Judge Pike said.
If all goes well, the project would start before the end of the year and take about a year to finish, he added.
Judge Pike is overseeing the effort, much of which would affect the 1872 courthouse's second floor, where the two main courtrooms are located.
Plans call for installing a gabled roof on the three-story building to replace the leaking, flat roof. Water has repeatedly seeped into courthouse offices, damaging equipment and fixtures.
Also included in the renovation plan is remodeling of the two courtrooms to restore them to their 19th-century appearance and to modernize the courtroom jury box and meeting rooms.
Modernizing would include installation of video screens for each juror. The screens would be used to display evidence for jurors' examination during a trial.
Another facet of the project would entail installing a new heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system for the second floor.
The court would be able to pay back the 30-year, 4.6 percent loan because it receives federal reimbursement dollars that amount to more than $100,000 annually.
The reimbursement money covers the money the court spends from its budget in handling certain child welfare matters, such as support orders.
The reimbursement would free funds from the court's budget to pay back the renovation loan.
Commissioners are considering adding to the project's scope by replacing all the courthouse's windows, said Commissioner President Jim Hoppel.
Most of the windows now in the building are old and allow warm air to escape the structure in cold weather. During the warm months, air conditioned air leaks outside. Both situations add to the county's utility bill, Hoppel said.
Preliminary estimates indicate it would cost about $200,000 to replace the windows, he said.
If window replacement is added to the project, the additional cost would be covered by the county's general budget, Hoppel added.