Work continues on courthouse and jail projects; still on schedule for September opening


Workers busily move in and out of the new Switzerland County jail and the addition to the Switzerland County Courthouse. Last week’s summer weather has given way to cold, wintry weather again, and project superintendent Tom Westerman is analyzing the weather as he plans the next steps in the construction.

“We lost all but two days last week working outside because of the weather,” Tom Westerman says. “All of the outside work on the courthouse depends on the bricklayers, and the weather really has them slowed down.”

With two projects going on simultaneously across the street from each other, it has taken a lot of organization to keep both projects on schedule — and so far that’s exactly what Tom Westerman and his crews have done.

Both the new jail and the courthouse addition are on target to be finished in September. With the courthouse project being slightly behind the jail, Tom Westerman believes that both will come in on time.

“We’re pushing for both to be done at the same time,” he says. “So much depends on the brick, which depends on the weather.”

At the jail project, Tom Westerman says that workers are painting the interior currently, and that most of the walls have been given two coats of epoxy paint. He believes that workers should be able to start applying primer to the walls in the office area today (Thursday); and once the painting is completed in that area, the drop ceiling in the office area can be installed next week.

“There’s still some work to do on the mechanical,” Tom Westerman said. “All of the big heavy mechanical lines have been run and insulated; and all of the plumbing lines above the ceiling are done and insulated. The security ceiling people will be in on Monday to get started, so all of the overhead work is pretty well done. The electricians are pulling most of their wiring through their conduit that will work the security doors and things like that. That should all be done by the end of next week.”

Tom Westerman said that one of the jail’s biggest projects will be the installation of the security ceiling in the cell areas. Made of heavy gauge steel, it is necessary to keep inmates from breaking through it. All of the building’s lighting will hang from it, so once that’s installed, new phases of the project will begin.

The water meter was installed in the building on Tuesday, so the water is now on in the building.

“The jail’s coming along pretty good,” Tom Westerman said. “It’s just a matter of following behind the painters. That’s an ongoing process. I would say another two or three weeks, and paint-wise we’ll be looking pretty good inside the jail.”

With all of the brick and stone work finished on the jail, better weather will bring the beginning of exterior work around the jail, including the installation of sidewalks and other landscaping, including the final grading of the property.


The courthouse addition has work going on both inside and outside, with bricklayers starting work on the south side of the addition — the side nearest the existing building. Tom Westerman hopes that all of the exterior brick and stone work will done by the end of May, which will allow crews to focus on the interior of the building.

“We’ve got all of our framing done on the basement and the first floor,” Tom Westerman said. “All of the unit heaters have been hung; and now we’re starting to frame the second floor. That should also all be done by the end of May, so we’ll probably start hanging sheet rock on the walls in probably another week in the courthouse.”

The centerpiece of the new addition will be a circular foyer that will feature a map of the county sewed into the carpet, with a circular ceiling featuring a hole that allows a view to the second floor.

Tom Westerman said that a big reason for the success of the project to this point has been the cooperation and help that he has been receiving from local companies.

“We’ve really gotten a lot of help from McAlister Excavating and from Bovard and Leap Excavating,” he said. “These two companies have helped us a lot. I really appreciate their willingness to work with us. It’s really helped keep us on schedule.”

There will also be outside site work around the courthouse, with new sidewalks being installed to access new parking on the west side of the courthouse on Main Cross Street. Other stone and landscaping work will finish off the area; but that work can’t begin until the exterior brick and stone work has been completed.

“We’re hoping for more good weather,” Tom Westerman said.