Poinsett County Courthouse Roof Renovations

HARRISBURG (KAIT) The historic Poinsett County courthouse in Harrisburg is 90 years old.

Over the years the roof has deteriorated to the point where rainwater leaks into the upstairs courtroom. It's ruining the ceiling.

Part of the problem has been repaired and now the dome shines bright.

The courthouse has a few issues with it's roof.

Judge Doyle Hillis "Basically if you been up in our courtroom you can pretty much see. We got ceiling tile falling down. When it comes big rain and stuff it leaks in there."

Brian Martin, Restoration Project Manager, "Water had infiltrated the building and into the courthouse and courtroom. It's caused plaster to fall from the ceilings and ceiling tiles. It just makes it look bad in the inside when the ceiling tiles look dirty and fall out."

The county itself did not have the money to make the needed repairs so a grant was applied for through the Arkansas Department of Historic Preservation.

Martin, "Once a year they allocate money to courthouses around the state so it's been a two year process just to get to this point."

Hillis, "We got this program that helps people like Poinsett county that needs help to remodel their courthouses or historical things with. Cause if it wasn't for them this wouldn't be possible."

The first stage of repairs was to restore the dome down to the tiles on the roof. The contractor found a few problems.

Martin, "It had numerous holes in it, had bullet holes in it. On the South side through storms something had actually gone up and over the dome and put gouges in it as it went all the way across. Hail on the West side has actually put dents in it as well. "

The domes has clocks built into it but most of them don't work and they're a little hard to get to.

Hillis, "It's hard to get somebody to go up there and set em up and fix em up. And another reason is lightning has hit a couple of them."

Martins' crew used auto body techniques to clean the dome and remove old paint.

Martin, "It had been painted about 20 years ago I guess they had developed leaks up there and someone had put a coating on it. And that coating was gone for the most part but there were spots of it still up there."

So how thick is the copper on the roof? About as thick as a souvenir squashed penny .

The repairs and cleaning took about a month but all the leaks are not quite done yet.

Martin, "The next phase will be the tile roof and the flat roofs and I believe once those two are done then those leaks will be gone for the next 20 years or longer."

Only time will tell, the next part of the roof repairs will see the tiled roof repaired and better access to the roof deck and attic from inside the courthouse.

Those projects will begin sometime this year.