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Supervisors discuss lighting for courthouse project

New lighting, set to be installed towards the end of this year’s project renovating the Webster County Courthouse, may have the ability to change colors for special recognitions or occasions.

New exterior LED fixtures on and around the building, currently in the design phase of the process, could potentially be changed for holidays, special occasions or acts of solidarity, such as recognizing a fallen officer.

In a Tuesday meeting with Des Moines engineering company Shuck-Britson, Webster County supervisors discussed next steps for lighting fixtures, which comprise $80,000 of the project approved this year at $6.19 million to renovate the roof and restore the deteriorating clocktower.

Engineer Craig German said Shuck-Britson is working now to engage and coordinate fixture work with contractors.

Discussions revealed that there will be between four and six lighting fixtures on the roof, as well as on two street lamps across the street from the courthouse. The restored clock tower’s face will also be lit.

Shielding on the light fixtures around the building will narrow the light beams, limiting light pollution to nearby downtown residents.

The final scope of lighting elements and design is expected to be determined by May 5.

German said the entity responsible for the electric bill for the street lamp fixtures has not yet been determined, though the cost from the two lights should be negligible due to low power consumption, and will be “ironed out” later.

The project’s total overhaul will restore several key functions for the downtown centerpiece.

A key part of the restoration would include installation of a plastic membrane to act as a water barrier between the copper and wood, leaving most levels of the tower dry. The top level of the tower is open to the air, so that the bell can ring. The water barrier will be designed so that water can flow back outside, preventing rotting of the wooden structure underneath.

The new plans for the roof would replace the fiberglass with glass, significantly increasing the amount of light that comes in and removing the yellow tint from more than 100 years of UV exposure that currently comes from the roof. The new glass would have a longer life span with a better ability to resist impact from ice during the winter.

The project’s blueprints include a partial replacement of the clock tower that will keep the intact pieces of the old green patina sheathing and restore the roof’s skylight. The change may result in a browner clock tower over all, a departure from the green color earned over a century. The sheathing’s extensive weathering over 118 years contributed to the need for action.

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