By Tim Leeds 

Courthouse steps finally nearing completion


What should be the final work in a nearly decade-long project is under way at the Hill County Courthouse, with Dick Anderson Construction working on the final stages of completing the steps on the south side of the building.

The work, which includes installing the stone facing, lamps and railings on the outer walls, is expected to be completed in five to six weeks.

The first project to fix the steps, completed in 2004, ended in litigation that essentially still is ongoing. It included work on the east entrance.

The county sued the architect because of problems including the slope of the steps. The slope was too low, preventing water from draining properly from the steps. Other problems included deterioration of the hand rails on the steps, and the hand rail on the concrete sides not meeting specifications.

The architect countersued, saying the problem was with the contractor, Phillips Construction of Cascade, and subcontractors.

That lawsuit was settled out of court, with the county receiving $410,000, $70,000 more than the $340,000 original cost of the project.

Phillips Construction began work to rebuild the steps again in 2007, with the county using that contractor to do the new work on the steps as a continuation of the project rather than submitting the project to new bids.

The coast of that contract was $396,550.

Phillips later was pulled from the project. Once new side walls and stairs were poured on the south steps, new problems were found — the county said one of the new walls had been set at a slant, the barristers erected to hold lamps at the bottom of the steps were not square, and now the steps had too great a slope.

Phillips also was pulled from a project in the bottom floor of the courthouse.

The county once again entered litigation on the project to rebuild the steps, and has been in arbitration and negotiation with Phillips Construction ever since.

Dick Anderson Construction began work on rebuilding the steps last fall, and resumed work to finish the project last week.

The settlement of the lawsuit against Phillips Construction is dependent on the cost of the work by Dick Anderson Construction, the attorney representing the county on the matter said last fall. A request for an update on that situation was not returned by deadline this morning.


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