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How to rebuild courthouse on County Council's agenda

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By Jenny Hartley

County Council is expected to discuss how to proceed in rebuilding the Lancaster County Courthouse at Monday night's council meeting.

"I can assure you, it will be talked about," County Administrator Steve Willis said Friday.

Hunter Builders finished stabilizing the roof of the 180-year-old building Friday.

The courthouse was set on fire early Monday, with the fire burning through the roof and badly damaging the courtroom on the second floor.

Officials will meet with insurance agents to talk about getting new trusses for the roof, Willis said.

Council will also likely talk about increasing security at other county government buildings where court records are kept.

While $25,000 was earmarked for security measures in the 2008-09 budget, Willis said new measures have an estimated cost of more than $100,000. He wouldn't talk about what new security measures could be put in place.

Referendum public hearing

Residents will have a chance to speak their minds Monday about an upcoming bond referendum.

Council is holding a public hearing on the proposed bond referendum to raise funds to build a new courthouse, expected to cost $33 million.

Voters will decide whether to add an extra penny-per-dollar to the sales tax to pay off bonds to finance the construction of a new courthouse.

The referendum proposal was moving forward before an arsonist set fire to the historic Lancaster County Courthouse.

Officials had said the old courthouse lacked the space and security measures needed for a modern courthouse. There had been talk about converting the old courthouse into a museum after a new one was built.

Establishing the referendum has already passed two readings by council. Third and final reading to hold the referendum on Nov. 4 will be held Monday night.

Those who would like to comment during the public hearing may sign up before Monday's meeting begins.

Kershaw industrial site

Council is also slated to vote on approving $400,000 to build roads, do landscaping, put up signs and clear lots at the Kershaw Industrial Park. The park is now a tree farm, making it more difficult to attract potential tenants.

Council voted last year to fund similar work at the Heath Springs Industrial Park, which is nearly finished now.

Council will also recognize the employee of the third quarter at the meeting.

Council will meet in closed session at 5 p.m. to discuss a legal matter. Council is also scheduled to have another executive session at the end of the meeting to discuss an economic development issue.

The regular meeting starts at 6 p.m. in chambers on the second floor of the County Administration Building, 101 N. Main St. For details, call 285-1565.

Contact senior reporter Jenny Hartley at jhartley@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 283-1151