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COLUMBIANA Court has a leak



Published: Wed, February 12, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



The problem stems largely from the roof's design, a commissioner says.

By NORMAN LEIGH

VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU

LISBON -- Columbiana County Municipal Court Judge Mark Frost realized the severity of a courtroom leakage problem recently when he couldn't find a wastebasket to discard paper.

All the wastebaskets were being used to catch water dripping from the ceiling.

The damp courtroom in question is in a county-owned building just off Lincoln Way, about half a block from the county's main courthouse.

Days when rooftop snow melts result in an invasion of water into the municipal court that affects the courtroom and its attached offices, Judge Frost said.

"We're talking gallons," he said. Courtroom staff sometimes must empty wastebaskets several times daily to stay ahead of the deluge, the judge added.

Limited damage

So far, damage has been limited to some court records, which became wet. The records, which are still usable, have been moved, Judge Frost said.

Part of the problem, however, is that the leaks occur in different places at different times. It's hard to always predict from where water will fall and to keep that area clear, the judge explained.

Despite the trouble, Judge Frost is trying to see the lighter side.

"If they ever allow me to impose Chinese water torture, I'll be able to do it," he quipped.

Commissioner Jim Hoppel, who oversees county buildings, said the problem is largely attributable to the building's flat roof.

Ice builds up on the roof and blocks rooftop drains, causing the water to back up and find a way under the roofing material and into the building, Hoppel said.

He compared it to a situation some homeowners face when gutters freeze and melting snow works its way under shingles and into the house.

County workers are trying to minimize the leaking by climbing on the courtroom roof with salt to melt the ice and keep it from blocking the drains, Hoppel said.

The problem with the courtroom's leaking comes as county officials plan for construction of a new $3.6 million municipal courthouse.

Construction is expected to begin this fall on the building. It will replace the leaking courtroom in Lisbon as well as municipal courtrooms in Salem and East Palestine.

County officials are now trying to pick an architect to design the structure, which will be built on a 3-acre site north of Saltwell Road in Center Township, just north of Lisbon.

A court fund comprising fees paid by defendants in criminal and traffic cases will pay for the building.




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