Restoring the Glory of the Luzerne County Courthouse

WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) It is called "The People's House"  but it's in pretty sorry condition these days. There is a plan to bring back the Luzerne County Courthouse to its glory days.  The I-Team's Andy Mehalshick has more on the plan.

 The courthouse looks like it's in pretty good shape from the outside but county engineers say the inside is a totally different story. County leaders say say its a case of pay now or taxpayers may have to pay a lot more later.. 

"Will we take care of the home first?. You look at this beautiful courthouse we want to make sure it is here for generations." Said County Manager Dave Pedri

But that will cost money. A lot of money. Luzerne County Manager Dave Pedri has offered a plan to make long overdue repairs to parts of this courthouse.

"We've had a net on the rotunda in this courthouse since 2011. This is not what the people of Luzerne County deserve. They should be able to see the beautiful artwork and how beautiful this building really is."

The courthouse was built in 1909, the original artwork murals on the dome are falling apart.

County engineers tell Eyewitness News that much of the damage is not just because of water leaks but also tar and nicotine.

For decades people were allowed to smoke inside the courthouse. The smoke rose to the top damaging the artwork..

Tim McGinley is vice-chairman of the County Council which has the final say in how repair funds are spent.

"We've had experts in hire and looked at it. There's been some estimates but until we actually get on scaffolds and look at it it is pretty hard to give a solid figure."

The county has $3.6 million dollars available for what's called capital improvement projects. Some of it will also be used for repairs at the Luzerne County Prison..

Jim McMonagle has worked as a prosecutor at the courthouse for 24 years.  The Assistant D.A. says "It's a shame that certain parts of the building have been let go over the years. Now they are getting it fixed and that's good. "

Some other projects on the county managers wish list is roof replacement at Penn Place Courthouse Annex and improvements to the building that is used to store the county's voting machines. Council will meet Tuesday night to decide which projects will receive the funding. As part of the capital budget -- the county received a 500 thousand dollar court settlement from a contractor who replaced the roof of the courthouse in 2011. The roof leaked shortly after Hurricane Lee pounded our area that same year. The county sued the contractor claiming the repairs were not made correctly.


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