TOWANDA - A planned $500,000 project to replace the main section of the roof of the Bradford County Courthouse might be scaled back.

The copper roof, which dates back to the 1890s, might only need to be repaired, the commissioners said on Thursday.

To help them decide what to do, the commissioners on Thursday voted to hire an engineering firm from the area to do a study to determine whether the roof needs to be replaced or whether only repairs are needed at this time, the Bradford County commissioners said.

Hunt Engineers, Architects, & Surveyors of Horseheads, N.Y., will be paid up to $12,000 to conduct the study, Bradford County Commissioner Daryl Miller said.

As of last January, the commissioners were planning to go forward with the replacement of the entire roof, except for the roof of the building's dome, but they weren't sure when the replacement needed to actually be done, Miller said.

To help determine the timing of the project, the commissioners called in a couple of contractors who had done prior work on copper roofs, and those contractors were also asked to provide information about the condition of the roof and the scope of the replacement project that they felt was needed, Miller said.

"The first contractor said it (the roof) didn't need to be replaced at this time," Miller said. "The second said it might not need to be replaced (at this time), but there are some repairs that you could do" that would extend the life of the roof, according to Miller.

So the commissioners then decided to hire an engineering firm to conduct the study, which will involve an appraisal of the condition of the roof, and an evaluation of exactly what work needs to be done, he said.

The commissioners wanted to hire an engineering firm, because it would be able to bring in experts to evaluate the condition of the roof, and because it would provide an independent evaluation, Miller said. An engineering firm "doesn't really have anything to gain" from the results of the study, he said.

Hunt Engineers "will give us another set of eyes - another opinion - so we'll have a good basis to make a decision on what really needs to be done," he said.

The commissioners wanted to use Hunt "because of the expertise they have and the knowledge base they bring to the table," he said.

In January, the commissioners said they were planning to use revenue from the impact fee on gas drilling to replace the roof, which, at the time, had a preliminary cost estimate of $500,000.

But on Thursday, Miller said that a separate pool of funds - money that the county has been setting aside each year for capital improvement projects, including roof work at the courthouse - was also available to be used for the building's roof project.

The fund for capital improvement projects will be probably be used to pay Hunt Engineers, Miller said.

Hunt will begin work on the roof as soon as possible, said Michelle Shedden, chief county clerk. She said that Hunt had not provided a firm timeline on how long it would take them to do the study.

The courthouse's roof is not leaking, as the county has kept it in repair, McLinko has said. However, McLinko had said in January that the commissioners wanted to replace the roof before it ends up in a deteriorated condition.

Nursing home

In other business, the commissioners voted to seek bids for Phase II of the upgrade and expansion of the waste water treatment plant at the Bradford County Manor.

Phase II involves the installation of a 67,000-gallon equalization tank and associated piping and valves, Bradford County Maintenance Director Kim Corbett said.

The tank will replace the facility's existing equalization tank, which is less than half the size of the new one, he said.

At its April 18 meeting, the commissioners approved a $148,000 bid submitted by Purestream Inc. of Florence, Ky., to furnish the tank.

A plant's capacity needs to be increased because it treats, among other things, leachate that is piped to the plant from the Northern Tier Solid Waste Authority's growing landfill. The leachate is captured by the landfill's lining and funneled into the piping that carries it to the landfill.

The commissioners also opened bids for a new bulldozer, which will be used for various maintenance projects.

Nine companies submitted bids, which ranged from $23,000 to $89,302.

The companies submitted up to three different bids, which were for different makes of bulldozers.

In a 3-2 vote, the Bradford County Salary Board voted on Thursday voted to raise the hourly pay of Bradford County Orphans Court Deputy Clerk Janet Delamater from $12.37 to $13.00.

Bradford County Commissioner Mark Smith said he voted against the raise because does not support giving raises that are not included in the county budget.

The permanent members of the Bradford County Salary Board are the three Bradford County commissioners and Bradford County Treasurer Becky Clark.

Shirley Rockefeller, the Bradford County register and recorder of deeds, also participated in the vote on Delamater's raise.

Rockefeller, Miller and McLinko voted for the raise, and Clark cast the other dissenting vote.

James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: jloewenstein@thedailyreview.com