TOWANDA - At their most recent meeting, the Bradford County commissioners approved a $75,800 study to help plan the replacement of the Bradford County Courthouse's roof and also passed proclamations making April 2014 Child Abuse Prevention Month in Bradford County and April 6-14 Bradford County Volunteer Week.

A $12,000 study conducted last year by Hunt Engineers, Architects, & Surveyors of Horseheads, N.Y., had found that the material directly beneath the courthouse's copper roofing has deteriorated substantially, Bradford County Commissioner Daryl Miller said. The material, which is "almost like a particle board material," has dried out due to its age and will need to be replaced during the roof replacement project, Miller said.

On Thursday, the commissioners approved an additional $75,800 study by Hunt Engineers that will be a "very, very in-depth determination" of the work that needs to be done beneath the copper roofing as part of the roof replacement project, he said.

The study will look at whether any work needs to be done to the roof's sub-structure - beyond replacing the particle board-like material - and whether the sub-structure will be strong enough to support the new roof, he said. The substructure includes beams that support the roof.

The $75,800 study will also look at whether tiles in the dome of the courthouse's roof will need to be replaced, he said.

In addition, the $75,800 study will provide a menu of cost estimates for the replacement of the roof, and those estimates will differ depending on the selection of materials that will be used in the roof replacement project, Miller said.

The study will be "a very thorough and extensive look at what needs to be done" as part of the roof replacement project, he said.

The replacement of the courthouse's roof, which needs to be done, will be expensive, Bradford County Commissioner Doug McLinko said.

"We have a beautiful courthouse, and we want to maintain that beauty, McLinko said.

"We want (the new roof) to be historically correct," Miller said.

At this point, the roof is not leaking, Miller said.

However, "every once in a while, little, tiny leaks" occur in the roof, and those leaks have been repaired, he said.

In addition, the material directly beneath the copper roofing, which the copper roofing is attached to, has dried out to the point where it can no longer hold the screws and nails from the copper roofing, so parts of the copper roofing could peel off in a wind storm, he said.

"We want to do it (replace the roof and its subsurface material) before it becomes a big problem" in terms of wind damage and larger leaks, he said.

The courthouse will remain entirely open while the study is done and while the roof replacement project is underway, the commissioners said.

Porch area

In addition, the commissioners on Thursday approved a $10,300 study of the condition of the covered porch area at the front of the courthouse, which will be conducted by L.R. Aument LLC of Philadelphia.

The $10,300 study will look in depth at the condition of the porch area's floor and its subsurface material in order to determine what repairs need to be done to the floor area, he said. The floor "has cracked, and some holes that have shown up in the floor have been fixed over the years," Miller said.

In addition, L.R. Aument will examine the porch area's ceiling, he said. "We want to be sure it (the ceiling) is sound," Miller said.

It is safe for people to walk beneath the porch area's ceiling, Miller said. No pieces of the ceiling have fallen down, said Miller, who added that he believes county employees have not noticed cracks in the ceiling.

Nevertheless, since L.R. Aument is going to be on scene anyway, "we wanted them to see if there is any work that needs to be done to the (porch area's) ceiling," Miller said.

L.R. Aument specializes in the historic preservation of buildings, he said.

The courthouse was built in the 1890s.

Child Abuse

In conjunction with Child Abuse Prevention Month, Bradford County Children & Youth Services will be placing 198 pinwheels at 10 a.m. today on the lawn of the Bradford County Courthouse, which signify the 198 child abuse investigations the agency conducted in 2013, according to a press release from the agency.

As part of the event, 198 bio-degradable balloons will be released.

After proclaiming April 6-14 Volunteer Week, McLinko noted that there are many volunteers who serve at the Bradford County Manor.

"It takes special people not only to work at the Manor, but to volunteer there," McLinko said.

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