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      Potter County plans renovation of District Courts building

      Now that the $16 million restoration project on the Potter County Courthouse is wrapping up, commissioners are looking at doing the same to the District Courts building.

      The project is currently in Phase Two, and Potter County Commissioner Joe Kirkwood said this phase will help commissioners decide more specific plans for renovation.

      "This Phase Two will look at how all the county buildings are being used, the space that is allocated and a long-term future plan that we can plan for our renovations far into the future."

      Built in 1985, the District Courts building does not meet the new ADA standards and must go under renovation in order to comply.

      "Countertops in the restrooms have to be lowered for those that are in wheelchairs," Kirkwood stated. "Bathroom stalls have to be enlarged for wheelchairs. The ramps and the entryways have to be enlarged and the building will have to be restored to allow for new security measures."

      Phase One of the project showed the building is viable, meaning it can be renovated rather than being torn down. According to Kirkwood, that saved the county about $15 million- half of what it would have cost to erect a new building.

      "The good news is by doing this long-range planning, we will begin setting money aside in a savings account and we won't go out and do bond issues and we won't raise taxes," he said. "That's exactly what we did with the courts building."

      As of now, the plan is for the county to set aside money every year until enough is saved to begin renovation. Kirkwood said that could be up to 20 years from now.

      To lower costs once the building is constructed, Kirkwood pointed out energy-efficient appliances will be used. When renovation of the Santa Fe building was completed in 2000, air conditioners and energy-efficient light bulbs were used that have saved the county thousands of dollars each year.