Courthouse has cooling problems

NORWALK Defendants in criminal trials who sweat bullets in front of a Huron County judge may not nec
Cory Frolik
May 24, 2010



Defendants in criminal trials who sweat bullets in front of a Huron County judge may not necessarily be guilty.

They may be sweating because the courtroom is too hot.

The air conditioner for the courtroom in the Huron County Courthouse was set to 68 degrees Monday, but the thermometer reading hovered at 74, said Royal Chisholm, HVAC worker with Huron County.

At several other spots in the courthouse earlier this week, especially in the south end of the second floor, the air was not as chilly as it should have been.

"The office area was set for 68, and it was 76 degrees in there," Chisholm said.

A new heating and cooling system was installed in the Huron County Courthouse and the adjacent office building last fall. The design was done by the Poggemeyer Design Group, and various subcontractors did the actual installation.

Since then systems problems have arisen with both heating and cooling the buildings.

It is unacceptable the system does not operate as it should, said Huron County commissioner Ralph Fegley.

"There are design issues here that still have to be fixed. This is not a big job," Fegley told designers on Tuesday. "Last year we should have seen the end of this project and had it wrapped up."

The reason commissioners gave for selecting Poggemeyer for the project was because performance was guaranteed. But Fegley said performance promises were consistently broken.

"Here we are with outside temperature that was virtually the same as what was inside," Fegley said. "My goodness, what are we going to do when we hit 100 degrees?"

Bart Recker, mechanical department manager with Poggemeyer, said the system was working recently when the temperature outside climbed to oppressive heights. Adjustments to the airflow can be made, but Recker said it is important first to do some investigating to determine the scope of the problem.

This comment did not sit well with Fegley.

"You are the project manager. You are supposed to be out there. You should know that information now," he said.

Recker responded it is the contractor's responsibility to relay operational difficulties to his company.

"I don't go up ladders and put a hard hat on to crawl from the ceilings to check things out. I need information from the contractors -- from the people who installed it. Is it working right? Is it damaged?" he said.

Poggemeyer's stance is it will fix any design problem, even though the company maintains it was built properly. The company said it will investigate the system to see if there were installation or equipment problems.

Commissioners said the bugs need to be fixed soon.