Money pit?

John P. Cleary | The Herald Bulletin, file photoThe Madison County Government Center has undergone $8 million in repairs since 1973.

ANDERSON – The Madison County Government Center will soon be down to one working elevator through the end of November.

American Elevator was awarded a contract earlier this year to replace the two elevators at a cost of $394,500.

Tim Westerfield, Madison County administrator, said the work is set to begin July 1.

One elevator will be replaced at a time and it will take two months to replace each of them.

The elevators are original to the building that opened in 1973.

The Madison County Council approved $400,000 from the group insurance account to capital projects to pay for the replacement.

There had been some discussion about paying for the elevator replacement with some of the $1 million remaining in the wind farm economic development account.

Those funds have been earmarked for a potential project in Elwood for the construction of a new Hines Career Center.

Last August, the Madison County Council started researching possible litigation as a result of needing to replace the elevators after a $4.4 million renovation of the courthouse and removal of asbestos.

Kent Odom, properties manager for Madison County, said the first hint of problems with the elevators came in March 2018 and officials were told the two elevators could be repaired.

Although a consultant hired by the commissioners and the elevator maintenance company said the remodeling and asbestos remediation work didn’t result in the need to replace the elevators, that changed in August.

“There was extra weight,” Odom said at the time. “The elevators weren’t made for it. I don’t know why a service elevator wasn’t put into the building.

“The weight did create a problem,” he added. “It caused the equipment to wear down quicker. It didn’t help.”

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.

​Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 640-4863.

Senior Reporter covering Anderson and Madison County government, politics and auto racing for The Herald Bulletin. Has been working as a journalist in central Indiana since 1977.