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Upshur county commissioners juggle ADA plans

By Christina Lane
April 30, 2013 at 11 p.m.


Upshur County commissioners on Tuesday decided to change plans on features related to making their courthouse compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

During renovations, construction crews recognized there was a main support beam where plans called for a doorway to accompany an ADA-accessible ramp on the southeast corner of the courthouse, County Judge Dean Fowler said.

Because the county could not interfere with the support beam, commissioners opted to move the ADA-accessible ramp to the northwest corner of the courthouse, Fowler said.

Instead of the ramp being on the interior of the building, it will instead be on the outside.

The ramp will enter the building in an area that is a window on the basement floor going into the adult probation office, Fowler said.

Commissioners discussed the possibility of moving the adult probation office to the other end of the hallway where the ramp was originally planned. However, because there was not an agenda item to vote on moving the office, commissioners could not make the decision Tuesday.

Fowler noted the change in the ramp's location will not delay the project's completion date in October and said the contractor has guaranteed that the change in work will not cause the price to increase. Commissioners have allotted $395,000 to the project.

The county is having to bring its courthouse up to ADA standards to be compliant with the U.S. Department of Justice.

The federal department in 2011 reviewed the courthouse, library, rock building, tax office, porter building, justice center, road and bridge authority building, Rosewood church, Diana schools, Gladewater Former Students Building, Glenwood Water Supply, First Assembly Church of God, Union Ridge Community Center, Union Hill schools, Walnut Creek Baptist Church, Big Sandy school, Ore City offices, Simpsonville Volunteer Fire Department and Pritchett Community Center.

Most of the buildings reviewed are used as polling locations. According to the federal department, the review was limited to areas used by the public, including parking, the route from the parking area to the area used for voting and the area used for voting.

The county has been working to bring all non-compliant areas into compliance.

Following bringing the courthouse to ADA compliance, commissioners intend to embark on a courthouse restoration project with grant money from the Texas Historical Commission that will allow the county to restore the courthouse to its 1937 appearance.

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