County highway shop crumbling

The Houston County Highway Department building on East Washington has fallen under scrutiny the last few months due to its deteriorating condition. Some of the problems include peeling facia, missing windows covered up with boards and cracked block. ~ Emily Bialkowski

The Houston County Highway Department building on East Washington has fallen under scrutiny the last few months due to its deteriorating condition. Some of the problems include peeling facia, missing windows covered up with boards and cracked block.
~ Emily Bialkowski

By Emily Bialkowski
Caledonia Argus

 

The Houston County highway shop is not in a good state of repair. It’s actually quite bad and suffers from cracked block, water damage and seepage, unfit doors and frames, plywood patches for missing windows, holes in windows and peeling facia, among other problems.

Resident Chuck Schulte brought the issue before the Houston County Board Jan. 22 for a second time.

“This is what you see when you pull up to the Houston County Highway Department building,” he said while supplying those in attendance with over 20 images of the structure.

“It looks pretty tacky but that’s just a small part of it,” he said, adding that he’s heard employees have been told not to do any maintenance on the building, though he didn’t provide any names in that regard.

The Houston County Highway Department building on East Washington has fallen under scrutiny the last few months due to its deteriorating condition. Some of the problems include peeling facia, missing windows covered up with boards and cracked block. ~ Emily Bialkowski

The Houston County Highway Department building on East Washington has fallen under scrutiny the last few months due to its deteriorating condition. Some of the problems include peeling facia, missing windows covered up with boards and cracked block.
~ Emily Bialkowski

After shuffling through the images he asked, “Can we all agree there’s something wrong?” and, “Is there a long-term plan?”

Commissioner Steve Schuldt agreed that, “the building is a problem. There has been a plan, I guess, to replace it.”

Schuldt mentioned a 22-acre parcel that was purchased by the county north of Caledonia for such an effort. That parcel was, however, going to be put up for bid this winter until the county realized doing so would have broken a lease agreement and created financial penalties.

The county was going to sell the land for around $300,000 and turn the money over to improve or construct a new highway shop at the current location on East Washington Street in Caledonia.

Schuldt asked Schulte his thoughts on putting up a new building.

“Why would I want to support that when you didn’t take care of what you had. The problems with this building were preventable. I don’t understand the mentality,” Schulte said, adding that he doesn’t believe the constituency would support such a project either.

“I don’t think you have the option to sit here and do nothing,” he warned.

Neither option – fixing the old building or putting up a new structure – seems attractive as the county faces extreme budget demands and a dwindling general fund.

“I don’t think it’s going to be cheap at all. You can shovel a lot of money into an old house and it’s still an old house. I would rather put something new up that will be more functional,” Schuldt said.

Schulte suggested the board get some solid numbers on what it would cost to shore up the old structure before even considering putting up something new.

The topic floats above the board’s head like a heavy cloud and is garnering new attention from the  most recent additions to the board.

Commissioner Dana Kjome said, “I was out there two weeks ago and was shocked at the condition of it. I was floored.”

According to Commissioner Justin Zmyewski, about $27,000 has been set aside for repairs and maintenance.

 

  • seeks

    This is very sad, Beryl Kerrigan took such care of this building, but anytime you don’t do proper maintenance a building will fall apart, isn’t that common sense!
    Being that the county has lots of money – you may as well go for the gusto and build a new building only makes sense doesn’t it, and if you’re lucky maybe you could rent some space out at the most needed school that is now sitting half empty or maybe rent from the new jail while they build you a new building. My last question is will you take care of this one???????

  • Looking for the truth

    There seems to be or have been a pattern here, when we look back at how the county Board deals with issues. Ignore it and it will go away. This is no exception. There are some new people on the Board, and maybe now is the time to take the bull by the horns and take care of business. If this building needs to be replaced, lets get it done, so it does not turn out to be a decade long debae, like the law enforcement center. The deterioration of this building did not happen over night, and it is not going to get repaired or replaced in the period of time either. When a County Facility looks like it is condemed, I think its time to ask, why did this get so bad? Time to take care of business. I think the Board should have some one competent go through all buildings to see what needs to be done, and evaluate everything.Maybe an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?

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