Sgt. Kenny Holden is a man on a mission.
Maybe it's because he had to have his own roof repaired and knows how the expense mounts when repairs are delayed. Or maybe it's because he believes the Augusta-Richmond County Municipal Building can withstand bombs but not chronic leaks.
Mostly, he worries because as the chief security officer for the county's Superior Courts, Sgt. Holden is responsible for the health and safety of those who come into the municipal building's courtrooms.
"It's my responsibility ...," said the sheriff's office sergeant.
This month, Sgt. Holden visited the Richmond County grand jury. A committee was formed immediately, he said.
In the law library on the top floor, an antique portrait of William Montgomery, the assistant justice of the Georgia Supreme Court from 1872-73, is propped against a wall. It has been damaged by the water leaking through the roof.
Librarian Nancy Hunter keeps a bucket handy. When it rains, there is a steady stream through the ceiling in her office.
Checking the walls and ceiling in the library, Sgt. Holden points out how the leaking has been so extensive that the tar from the roof is staining the walls. Some of the damage has been repaired, Sgt. Holden said.
"A patch here, patch there" however, won't solve the problem, he said.
Not just the top floor has been affected. On the third-floor extensions, the ceilings and windows are moldy and leaking. In Chief Judge William M. Fleming Jr.'s hearing room, another antique portrait and law books dating to 1908 have been damaged.
The furniture in Judge James Blanchard's hearing room was rearranged because the court reporter got tired of being dripped on, Sgt. Holden said.
Water damage is on the third, second and even the first floors. On the second floor, a large section of the courtroom space has been roped off because of falling ceiling tiles.
About 14 years ago, the whole ceiling fell in, Sgt. Holden said .
Rick Acree, the assistant director of public works, facilities management, said the county will seek bids for a new roof after the first of the year. The roof is about 15 years old and needs to be replaced, he said. He would not estimate the cost.
After work begins, Mr. Acree said, the job could take four to 10 weeks. The building will remain open for business during the work, he said.
Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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