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County sets deal to repair courthouse

[10/10/03]The company that reroofed the Warren County Jail will be hired to perform more than $800,000 in renovations and repairs at the old Warren County Courthouse, which houses the Old Court House Museum-Eva W. Davis Memorial.

Supervisors made the commitment Thursday, even though a second round of bids for the scaled-back project still came in above the amount they had planned to spend.

“The principal reason we made this decision is we need to do the work, and with the mobilization costs and scaffolding, it’s cheaper to do it all at once,” said Richard George, board president and District 5 supervisor.

The lowest bid in the first round was nearly $920,000. The lowest base bid among those opened Monday came from Mayrant and Associates of Jackson, who offered to do the base work for $558,600.

Supervisors gave all the bids to architect Al Hopton for review and, on Thursday, the board voted to accept Hopton’s recommendation that the base bid and all four additive alternates be accepted.

The base bid is for complete removal and replacement of the copper roof along with flashing, parapet covers and repairs to the stucco, and restoration on the gables.

Alternate One will add $71,200 for preparation, repair, cleaning and treatment of the stucco dentils, cornices, friezes and tenia. Alternate Two will add $26,900 to repair the ceilings of all four porches, and Alternate Three will add $43,750 for repairs to the stucco of the lower frieze, soffits and the beams of the porches. The fourth alternate will add as much as $14,400 for the removal of hazardous materials such as asbestos if it is found in the roof or other locations where work will be done.

In addition to the other costs, the county added 6 percent for architects’ fees and another 6 percent for contingencies for a total of $800,632.

The county had received a grant from the Mississippi Department of Archives and History for $236,000 to begin the project. This was matched with $47,000 from the county’s general fund. The remaining $565,632 will come from the county’s gaming revenues.

George said work will likely begin in about a month after the contracts are signed and approved by the state Department of Archives and History. Mayrant, which ended a $1.3 million jail contract earlier this year, will have 270 calendar days to complete the work after they receive the notice to proceed.

The old courthouse is one of the nation’s most historic structures. It was built in 1858 and appears in Civil War etchings of the city.

It housed all county offices until the new Warren County Courthouse across Cherry Street was opened in 1940. Eva W. Davis obtained the use of the building a few years later and turned it into a museum that attracts thousands of visitors per year and is operated at no public expense by the Vicksburg and Warren County Historical Society.