July 24--Lancaster County commissioners voted Wednesday morning to restore the dome on the county courthouse and the statue that stands above its clock.
The plan includes good news for lovers of local history: The county says it will remove the statue and put it on public display for a few days both before and after it is repaired.
Charlie Douts, the county's director of facilities management, said Tuesday that the commissioners' previous decision to commit $500,000 in bond funding to restoring the historic courthouse "shows that you are exercising your responsibility and stewardship of a county treasure."
Without work in the near future, Douts said, serious problems will develop. The planned repairs will be worthwhile.
"It's lasted more than 150 years," he said. Once repaired, "it should last many, many more."
The copper statue now atop the courthouse, known alternately as the Goddess of Justice and "Lady Justice," replaced an original wooden one sometime in the early 1920s. That wooden statue had been placed on the courthouse dome April 13, 1854, as the final step in its construction.
Leaks have developed in the copper that covers the dome - that's what's turned it green - and the statue shows signs of water damage as well, according to Douts and Barry Garman, project manager in Douts' department.
The dome project should take 10 to 12 months, with scaffolding to go up around the dome to determine what repairs it needs, Garman said. The statue will be removed and sent to Philadelphia to be refurbished, he said.
The plan is to remove the statue from the top of the dome in October and put it on public display - possibly somewhere on Duke Street or King Street inside barricades that will allow it to be viewed but not touched - both a few days before sending it for repairs in October and a few days after it is repaired and before it is put back on the top of the courthouse.
Repairs should take six to seven months, possibly in time to put it on display around April 13, the 161st anniversary of when the original 900-pound wooden Lady Justice, which cost $200 at the time, was placed on the courthouse. The copper version weighs between 2,000 and 3,000 pounds, Garman said.
Commissioners also voted to approve:
_A $25,000 lease agreement with Spooky Nook Sports to provide space for the 700,000-square-foot indoor sports complex to use for overflow parking between Thanksgiving 2014 and Easter 2015. The agreement can be renewed if both parties agree for the same time period in 2015-16. Sam Beiler, the owner of Spooky Nook Sports, was on hand to answer questions if the commissioners had any. They had none.
_An easement to preserve a 44-acre crop farm in the 300 block of Strickler Road, Rapho Township. Purchasing the development rights to the farm of Blake Brubaker will cost $143,747 in state funds. The farm is the 1,272nd farm preserved in Lancaster County, and its addition brings the county's total preserved acres to 100,692 acres, according to Matt Knepper, executive director of the Lancaster County Agricultural Preserve Board.
_Spending $35,000 on engineering and legal fees to complete work and legal documents to allow the county to sell the three buildings in the complex off Rohrerstown Road near Route 30 in East Hempfield Township as individual units. That should be done by the end of the month, Chief Clerk Andrea McCue told the commissioners Wednesday. McCue also said that closing on the sale of 2250 Erin Court to Lancaster-based insurance broker NTI Group should occur in mid-August and a potential buyer has shown interest in 2260 Erin Court.
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