Our Opinion: Commendable stewardship of courthouse

News Tribune editorial

Cole County residents who appreciate architecture are fortunate.

Just as our state Capitol is among the most majestic nationwide, so our county courthouse ranks at or near the most marvelous in the state.

The present incarnation of the courthouse, at the corner East High and Monroe streets, dates to 1918.

It reflects a rebuilding of the upper story and interior after a fire gutted its predecessor.

With a nudge from a physical inspection by the grand jury — prompted by Presiding Circuit Court Judge Pat Joyce — the Cole County Commission has contracted for exterior repairs.

The three-member governing body approved a $188,613 contract with MTS Contracting Inc., Springfield, to repoint brick and stone, reset bricks and repair stones.

The masonry work will come on the heels of a sallyport in the former jail in the courthouse basement.

The sallyport will improve security both inside and outside the courthouse by moving the transfer of prisoners within the courthouse basement.

Previously, the transfer occurred in an alley, flanked on one side by the courthouse and on the other by a church where children also come and go for preschool instruction.

The project was awarded to Prost Builders, the low bidder at $229,556, but commissioners reported the work has come in $23,500 under budget.

Yet another enhancement — at no charge to the county — is repair of the courthouse clock.

A group of mechanically inclined volunteers devoted time and expertise to refabricate a broken pendulum for the circa 1920 Seth Thomas clock. It now is keeping time for the first time since 2009.

As an across-the-street neighbor, we at the News Tribune appreciate hearing the historic clock chime anew.

The courthouse is a valued and valuable centerpiece of county operations and history.

Stewardship to continue and enhance that role is commendable.

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