- Associated Press - Saturday, July 5, 2014

WILBER, Neb. (AP) - Saline County has approved plans to build a $4.1 million addition to its historic courthouse in Wilber.

County commissioners approved the project this spring, the Beatrice Daily Sun reported (https://bit.ly/1m3e3B2 ) Saturday. Officials said the addition will satisfy requirements for safety, security and accessibility while blending in with the main revival-style courthouse, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

An elevator will provide access to all floors of the building, as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act, and a second staircase and fire exit will comply with current codes. The addition is also intended to improve security and will include disabled-accessible restrooms.

Commissioner Marvin Kohout, of Dorchester, said the five-member board initially looked at building a new courthouse, but the $12 million price tag was too high.

The board also explored renovating and modifying the 86-year-old courthouse, but plumbing problems and rewiring necessary for computer equipment made that option unfeasible.

Kohout said commissioners plan to issue bonds to pay for the addition.

Public safety has been a concern at the courthouse. Currently, prisoners are held in a public corridor just outside of the county courtroom. That’s also where the public waits before entering to take driver’s license exams.

Once the design of the addition is finalized, officials hope to select a contractor by mid-August. Groundbreaking is set for Oct. 1. The courthouse will remain open throughout construction, which is expected to take about 20 months.

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Information from: Beatrice Sun, https://www.beatricedailysun.com

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