Sunday, July 13, 2014

Roof renovations rankle court crowd

October 21. 2013 11:33PM

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WILKES-BARRE — As a criminal defendant was brought before the bench for sentencing Monday morning, a thunderous noise rumbled above.

To the consternation of Luzerne County Judge Joseph Sklarosky Jr. — as well as attorneys, defendants and spectators in county Courtroom 2 — the clatter overhead continued unabated for some time, as workers outside toiled away on a $834,200 project to replace the roof of the historic 1909 courthouse.

“Today was a very unusual day,” Court Administrator Michael Shucosky said.

That’s because an unusually full schedule meant every single courtroom was in use first thing Monday morning, Shocosky said — even the recently renovated council chamber — inadvertently placing Courtroom 2 squarely under a work zone, he explained.

“Court Administration has been involved with the project from the very beginning and has been very cooperative,” said county Engineer Christopher Belleman.

“The contractor submits their proposed work schedule for a two-week window and we coordinate this work with the courts. For example, if Courtroom 2 is scheduled for a case, the contractor will work at other locations atop the roof and not disrupt court activities,” Belleman said.

Shucosky said laborers begin “very early in the morning” and try to have as much work done as possible before 9:30 a.m. But with Courtroom 2 in use Monday from 9 a.m., its business and the renovations conflicted.

This was not the first such conflict noted by The Times Leader. A tax-sale proceeding in recent weeks, presided over by Judge Michael T. Vough, also had to be moved amid the clatter of renovations.

“It is the first time it has been brought to my attention,” Shucosky said of the noise being heard during court business.

Sklarosky appeared exasperated by the din, but proceeded with his cases. He was selecting a jury later Monday and unavailable for comment.

The work is scheduled to be completed by mid-November, but the completion date may be extended through a change order in the contract, Belleman said.

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