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Spokane County OKs thousands in courthouse repairs

Wed., May 26, 2010

Wind damage to roof ornament prompts fix for unrestored finials

A decorative metal finial – sort of a giant hood ornament – was blown off the roof of the Spokane County courthouse last Wednesday night.

A nearly 5-foot chunk of turret-topping curlicues broke away from the 7-foot finial and landed on a sidewalk at the southwest corner of the historic landmark courthouse sometime between 6 p.m. Wednesday and 6 a.m. Thursday.

On Tuesday, county commissioners ponied up $60,000 to repair the shattered finial and others in danger of falling. Several other pressing problems also are to be fixed.

Facilities Director Ron Oscarson estimated the fallen finial, which consists of sheet metal art on a heavy galvanized iron pipe, weighs 40 to 45 pounds. No one was injured and there appears to have been no damage to the courthouse roof.

Oscarson said the finial pipe had been placed around a narrower pipe, anchored to the roof, that had rusted away. The finial was one of 14 on the main courthouse roof that weren’t included in a 2007-’08 restoration of eight finials on the courthouse tower.

Oscarson told commissioners Tuesday that a preliminary examination with binoculars showed three finials seemed to be leaning and four showed rust damage.

If a closer inspection shows no other problems, Oscarson thinks the unrestored finials might be upgraded with stainless steel pipe for approximately $25,000 – coincidentally the same as the county’s insurance deductible.

Commissioners also approved an estimated $30,000 in repairs on faulty jail elevators, which impair safety when they’re not available.

A potentially leaky facade on the Public Safety Building and a buckling deck on the Public Works Building also are to be repaired.

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