by Bill Knowles
WALSENBURG— Part of the rock facing on the north side of the Huerfano County Courthouse began falling off Friday, March 4, prompting Chief Judge Claude Appel to cancel a trial and jury selection, and move court activities to Las Animas. On Wednesday crews began work on removing damaged rock and applying weather sealants on exposed building sub-face.
The historic courthouse, built in 1904, underwent extensive restoration work from 1994 to 2003 for a cost of about $1.3 million according to County Administrator John Galusha. The Colorado State Historical Society signed off on the project based on photographs rather then a physical inspection of the work.
Documents on hand at the county administrators office seem to indicate that work on the project was never finished and some of the facing on the courthouse was never included in the restoration work.
Funding for repairs to the building may have to come from the state historical fund which puts a cap on grants at $250,000. However the county is asking for the cap to be removed so they might be able to pursue a $700,000 grant to apply to repairs.
Firms that were part of the original restoration project were David H. Construction as the general contractors and Dale Zinn as the design architect. Lana Thomas was the grant writer for the project.
On Wednesday morning crews began working on removing rotten rock from the tower and applying a sealant to the exposed wall sub-face. A decommissioined, private party ladder truck was brought in so workers could access the tower face. The county is considering other possibilities for administrative offices.