Starke County Commissioners Approve Courthouse Elevator Grant Application

Upgrades to the Starke County Courthouse elevator are a step closer to moving ahead. The county commissioners voted Monday to submit a grant application to the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, after they sent in a letter of intent last month.

As part of the upgrades, new automatic sliding doors will be installed on both the elevator cab and each floor level, according to engineering firm DLZ. The existing manual doors are considered too heavy for many users to open, which has led to accessibility concerns.

Engineers say the elevator will also be outfitted with modern fire alarm controls, emergency communication devices, and audible floor indicators. Two feet will have to be added to the top of the elevator shaft, as part of the work.

To help pay for the upgrades, Starke County is applying for a $500,000 Public Facilities Program Grant. The county’s share of the cost would be $55,560, which would come out of the County Economic Development Income Tax Fund. The local funding arrangements were also approved by the commissioners Monday.

An announcement on whether the county will receive those funds is expected in October. While the grant is considered very competitive, Commissioner Kathy Norem said OCRA officials are optimistic about the county’s chances.

Meanwhile, the Starke County Council took steps of its own, to help provide financing for elevator maintenance and repair. They finalized a resolution creating a Courthouse Elevator Sustainability Fund authorized the deposit of $5,000, as a starting amount.