Commissioners move forward on courthouse clock tower project

Commissioners move forward on courthouse clock tower project
Dave Mast

Holmes County Commissioners Joe Miller, left, and Ray Eyler explore the custom-made copper clock tower model designed by Midstate Contractors Inc. The commissioners are entering a time of negotiations with the company to restore the courthouse clock tower in Millersburg.


For many decades the Holmes County courthouse has stood as one of the most recognizable structures in Holmes County. The Holmes County commissioners are hoping to keep it that way for many decades to come.

The Holmes County courthouse clock tower project moved one step closer to completion as the Holmes County commissioners met Monday, March 9 to sign a resolution approving the evaluation committee’s recommendation to pursue the best-value firm to do the renovations on the clock tower.

The commissioners gave authorization for Commissioner Joe Miller to enter into negotiations with Midstate Contractors Inc. Midstate was selected out of the three companies to ask to bid on the project, the other two companies being The Tradesman Group Inc. and Lee Restoration Ltd.

The clocktower restoration committee consists of Susan Schie, Andrew Hyatt, Arnie Oliver, Mark Leininger and Mike McDowell, along with Miller.

Miller said the committee eventually settled on pursuing Midstate out of Marion, Ohio because they liked the way the company presented itself in meeting with the committee.

The resolution only sets in motion the effort to go into negotiations with Midstate; it does not mean the company is set in stone.

“If we can’t strike a deal with Midstate, then we will go to the Tradesman Group,” Miller said. “They had their own people and do everything in house. We felt more comfortable with them.”

Commissioner Ray Eyler said Midstate has actually done work on the courthouse rook before, so they are familiar with the building and the tower.

The commissioners have been setting aside capital improvement money for this project for some time and expect it to hopefully cost less than $1 million to restore.

“This has been checked for quite a while, and it isn’t something that just came up,” Commissioner Rob Ault said. “We have been putting money into (the capital fund campaign) for quite a few years, knowing that we were going to have to eventually restore the courthouse. It is our job to maintain it.”

The commissioners looked at using steel for the project but felt the need to continually update and paint the tower would be burdensome. They opted instead for copper, which is much more maintenance-friendly. They also looked at the option of trying to make minor improvements as the clocktower currently stands, but that too would not be a long-term answer.

“We are thinking that this is going to last a long time,” Miller said of the restoration project being proposed. “We are going to have some lights that are going to make it look really pretty. These old buildings aren’t cheap, but they are important, and people really want to restore them and see them kept up.”

Miller said around half of the counties in the state no longer have a courthouse building and use other facilities to conduct county business. He said that is something Holmes County is not interested in doing.

Miller said part of the negotiating process will include whether or not to reintroduce a steeple to the top of the clocktower.

“It had a steeple on it at one point, but supposedly during (World War II) they needed steel, so they took that top off and the fencing around it,” Miller said. “So we are going to get a price the way it is and also a price to replace that on top.”

Miller will negotiate the details and cost of the project with Midstate on behalf of the committee and the commissioners.

The commissioners have said they hope the project will take place in 2020. Midstate leaders said it would take 20 days to put together the proposal for the project once a deal is struck, which was far less time than the other two companies needed to do so.

Much of the work on the copper shell of the courthouse clocktower will be done off-site with Midstate molding the copper pieces in their sheet metal building. The project will see Midstate put a large tent over scaffolding around the courthouse during restoration.

Completion of the restoration process is estimated to take between six to nine months, meaning the process will have to be underway soon.

Eyler said Midstate executives told them that during the restoration project their crew will not impact what is taking place inside the courthouse because they will bring everything in and work from the outside of the tower.

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