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Heaters quit working at courthouseTell North Platte what you think
Photo by George Lauby
Deb McCarthy at her desk
Photo by George Lauby
Patty Wonch works in limited lighting

Brrr; itís cold on the third floor of the Lincoln County Courthouse, where workers are dealing with heaters that donít work and overloaded circuits.

The 90-year-old radiator heaters quit working about the time colder weather arrived. Indoor temperatures are often 50 degrees in the mornings, sometimes colder, especially in offices near the corners of the building, workers say.

Space heaters are used in most upstairs offices to replace the radiator heat, leading to other problems. On Monday, a fuse blew in District Judge Donald Rowlands' office. He and his administrator Patty Wonch worked without lights.

It was so cold that ice formed on the inside of a window in an unheated storage room next to Wonchís office.

The situation prompted Rowlands to take time to go downstairs to the county commissioners meeting, where he sternly asked the commissioners to do something.

The fuse was replaced within the hour and the lights came on. Commissioner Joe Hewgley personally came up to check on the situation, Wonch said.

At the other end of the building, Clerk of the District Court Deb McCarthy said she and office workers keep their coats and sweaters on for awhile until the rooms warm up.

Maintenance man Dan Manookin said steam lines get clogged in the old radiator system and there is not a lot that can be done until the weather warms up and the lines can be taken apart and cleaned.

Nevertheless, Manookin varied the steam pressure later Monday, which sometimes can dislodge a clog. He said that he had some success and the upstairs radiators started working a little.

Manookin recommends that space heaters be left on during the weekend, set on economy mode, so rooms are warmer when people arrive for work on Mondays.

The west end of the courthouse was built in the early 1920s. New windows will be installed this year on the third floor, part of a 10-year program to upgrade the building.

A new heating system is next on the list, Manookin said, but it will be expensive - costing around $1 million.

The series of upgrades began last year, when high-capacity electrical service lines were installed to handle increasing demands.

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 1/14/2013
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