Judge may seek OSHA inspection of Rock Island County courthouse


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Originally Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2013, 7:35 pm
Last Updated: Jan. 22, 2013, 10:46 am
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By Eric Timmons, etimmons@qconline.com

Fourteenth Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Jeffrey O'Connor is considering asking the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to inspect the Rock Island County Courthouse.

Judge O'Connor wants to win over the public to his view a new courthouse needs to be built ahead of a referendum in April that could create a way to fund the project.

He said the 116-year-old building is in bad shape, and bringing OSHA in to assess it could help the public understand the need for a new courthouse.

"You've got to be able to demonstrate that it's got to go before you start spending a lot of money," Judge O'Connor said. "I'll be a part of anything that will get that across."

The referendum in April willask voters if they support expanding the powers of the Rock Island County Public Building Commission, which was established to build the county jail.

The building commission could then borrow money to build a courthouse. The same mechanism was used to fund construction of the Rock Island County Justice Center.

In an interview on Monday with the editorial board of The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus, Judge O'Connor said the building cannot be heated properly, has mold problems and likely is not in compliance with fire safety and disabled access codes.

"The time has long come and gone to do something," he said.

If the referendum is approved, the Rock Island County Board would have to decide where a courthouse would be built, and study cost and space requirements.

The board also could decide to build a new county office building through the expanded powers of the building commission to replace the existing building across from the courthouse that houses various county offices.

Judge O'Connor said there was a possibility the courthouse could be closed down by OSHA or because of a structural or mechanical failure.

He said he understands a proposal to build a new courthouse for tens of millions of dollars will be met with skepticism by some, but he said he hopes a public awareness campaign can convince voters the need is real.

"Nobody's trying to hoodwink anybody and get a fancy building," he said.

The county board voted last week to put the referendum question about the authority of the building commission on the April 9 local election ballot.





















 




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  Today is Wednesday, April 16, the 106th day of 2014. There are 259 days left in the year.
1864 -- 150 years ago: Yesterday some bold thief stole a full bolt of calico from a box in front of Wadsworth's store, where it was on exhibition.
1889 -- 125 years ago: A team belonging to Peter Priese got away from its driver and made a mad run across the Rock Island Bridge. The driver was thrown from his seat but not hurt.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Carlton Taylor was appointed district deputy grand master for the 14th
Masonic District of Illinois.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Moline's million dollar municipal airport was dedicated to air transportation and the national defense by Lt. Gov. John Stelle.
1964 -- 50 years ago: THE ARGUS will be election headquarters for Rock Island County tomorrow night, and the public is invited to watch the operation. The closing of the polls at 6 p.m. will mark the start of open house in the newsroom. Visitors will see staff members receiving, tabulating and posting returns.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Few bricks actually tumbled, but no one seemed to mind as about 1,000 people gathered to celebrate the formal start of demolition at the site of a downtown civic center.




(More History)