Rick Wade remembers when Woodford County’s third courthouse was destroyed by a 1965 fire. Now he has an important role in repairing the fourth courthouse that opened in 1970.
As county maintenance superintendent, Wade is overseeing the project that will replace the roof and the clock tower’s wood structure. Work will also be done on gutters and corner blocks, some of which are easing out from their settings.
The price for the project is about $1 million, nearly equal to the amount spent to build the entire three-floor courthouse between 1968 and 1970.
The roof work is a significant undertaking for Woodford Fiscal Court, which has a $17.5 million annual budget. The county government is financing the project with a seven-year loan through the Kentucky Association of Counties.
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Wade, 56, was 5 years old when the previous courthouse burned. He watched the flames and firefighters from the building now occupied by Madison’s on Main restaurant.
“It was pretty impressive from a 5-year-old’s standpoint,” Wade said. “I remember a lot of hoses in the street and a lot of people working frantically” to move furniture out of the courthouse.
Fast forward to today, and a courthouse in need of repairs. The clock works fine, but the larvae of wood-boring beetles chewed through the tower’s wood, making parts of it unstable.
“That was my biggest fear, that high winds would blow panels out,” Wade said. “Safety was the driving factor behind this. …When we had any high wind, there was a lot of anxiety from my standpoint.”
Wade felt there was enough urgency that he asked for and received an emergency declaration from fiscal court, which meant that the project was not competitively bid.
“I think the court took the appropriate action,” said Woodford County Judge-Executive John Coyle.
Congleton-Hacker Co. of Lexington is the general contractor on the project. Roofing will be done by Steinrock Roofing & Sheet Metal of Louisville. Bates Building Maintenance of Corbin will address masonry issues, and painting will be done by McKinney Painting of Versailles.
Scaffolding was erected on the courthouse’s south side in late June. The project is supposed to be finished in October.
“I think people will be proud of it when it’s finished,” Coyle said. “When people come downtown, the courthouse is the premier building that you make reference to. The repairs that we’re getting done now have been needed for quite some time.”