By Scott Robertson
When the Washington County Commission voted March 24 to allow renovations on the second floor of the county courthouse to recommence, there was a sense of relief that work would, following months of delays, finally get underway. But a visit to the courthouse this week found the second floor to be quiet as a tomb.
The hold-up now stems from the fact that Hiram Rash of Goins Rash Cain, the Sullivan County company hired to oversee the work, took on other jobs while waiting for the Washington County Commission to decide on a course of action. All of Rash’s crews are now working on those other jobs, said Willie Shrewsbury, county purchasing agent. Washington County will just have to wait its turn.
“When I spoke with (Rash) last, he said it would be in the range of about six weeks before he could begin,” said Shrewsbury. “That would put the start of work at around June 1.”
If all goes well once the work gets started, said Shrewsbury, the bulk of it could be completed within 60 days. One potential hold-up in the proceedings could be the platform on which the county commissioners will sit during commission meetings, said Shrewsbury. As currently drawn up (and there is a wooden foundation for the platform already in place) the platform would not allow access for a commissioner who’s confined to a wheelchair. “We would have to address that,” said Shrewsbury. The problem is not merely an academic ADA exercise. Johnson City has had a wheelchair-bound commissioner in Vance Cheek, Jr. in recent years.
In the meantime, Shrewsbury is working to line up scheduling for the subcontractors who will do various portions of the job. He said he wants to be sure they’re ready to go the moment Rash says they’re needed. “We just want to do everything we can now to make sure it all runs smoothly once we do get started,” Shrewsbury said.