LIMA — “We’re keeping our heads above water, but we’re up to our nose.”
With those words, Allen County Building and Grounds Coordinator Jason Patchet reported to the board of county commissioners on Thursday that efforts to keep county buildings in operation in the face of near record-setting cold temperature have been “challenging” for county employees.
“The cold weather has definitely challenged our heating and air conditioning/ventilation equipment,” Patchet said. And perhaps nowhere was that challenge bigger than it has been at the county courthouse — a spacious facility that is difficult to heat under the best of circumstances. But the prolonged spell of abnormally frigid temperatures that have gripped the region presented extra challenges in keeping courthouse operable for employees and members of the public alike this week.
Clerk of Courts Margie Murphy Miller said that upon returning to work Tuesday after the three-day New Year’s holiday, employees in her office and others were greeted by frigid temperatures inside the courthouse. Patchet told commissioners the mercury reading was around 54 degrees on the second floor of the courthouse earlier that morning. In an attempt to combat the frigid conditions, Patchet rented a pair of infared space heaters at $200 apiece per week and placed one just inside the front entrance and the other on the second floor of the structure. “That helped tremendously,” he said.
“We were definitely struggling, but the heaters are helping,” Patch said. “It was pretty decent outside the clerk’s office this morning (Thursday).”
Miller said employees in the clerk’s office coped with the chilly conditions “just fine.”
“They’re pretty great that way,” the clerk said of her crew. “We just all kept our coats on and kept pecking away [at keyboards] with our fingerless gloves. It’s warmer in here today, but we’re all still dressing in layers. And Jason approved foot-warmers, a panel that radiates heat, for all of us and now all 12 of our employees have one sitting at their feet.”
In his report to the commissioners, Patchet said intake air handlers at the county jail and Veterans Memorial Civic Center are struggling but have functioned as programmed. The other county buildings “are currently doing okay, but we are closely monitoring them daily,” Patchet said.