Engineer: Tile poor option for courthouse roof

Jennifer Learn-Andes

February 20, 2013

A Luzerne County Courthouse roof repair project this year will complete efforts to stop leaks damaging the interior of the century-old structure, county Chief Engineer Joe Gibbons told county council Tuesday night.

The state Historical and Museum Commission requires the county to maintain the structure's original appearance as much as possible when completing repairs, Gibbons said.

An old photograph and artifacts kept by building-and-grounds employees indicate the courthouse originally had a red-orange Spanish barrel terra cotta tile roof, Gibbons said, showing council one of these samples.

Gibbons proposes the roof be finished with high-performance, fiberglass shingles that create the illusion of this type of tile. The shingles would carry a 50-year warranty and cost 60- to 75-percent less, Gibbons said.

He believes the original terra cotta roofing system was replaced after four years, largely because it could not withstand damage from ice sliding off the domes. Shingles are more resistant to such impact, he said.

The 40-year-old courthouse elevators also will be replaced this year, Gibbons said.

In other business Tuesday:

• Citizen Bob Caruso cited examples of election requirements he says were not followed in the 2012 general election and questioned why the county election board failed to publicly meet for more than three months to discuss these problems. Caruso, who is in his sixth decade of attending election board meetings, said he tried to discuss these concerns at last week's election board meeting but was prematurely cut off.

Council Chairman Tim McGinley agreed with Councilman Stephen J. Urban's suggestion to ask election board members to attend a council meeting to provide an explanation.

• Councilman Rick Morelli asked county Manager Robert Lawton when he plans to recommend eight division head applicants to council for its confirmation.

Lawton said he expects interviews to be held next week for the budget/finance division head position and plans to recommend applicants for the remaining posts next month.

• County Controller Walter Griffith discussed his completed audits and future audit plans. Many audit findings point to the need for revised policies and procedures, Griffith said.

Lawton said the administration will start holding regular meetings with Griffith to discuss progress implementing recommended changes that will benefit the county.

What's next

Luzerne County Council will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday, though it's still unclear if the meeting will be held at the county's Emergency Management Agency on Water Street in Wilkes-Barre or the revamped council meeting room in the courthouse.