County workers, jurors bear with ‘ridiculous’ heat

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 29, 2000

Betty Brasfield pointed to a portable fan Monday when asked how she stood the heat at the Adams County Courthouse.

&uot;I don’t even look at the temperature,&uot; she said. &uot;It doesn’t matter. I can’t control it.&uot;

On Monday, as county employees came to work at the State Street courthouse, some felt the heat inside was unbearable.

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&uot;It’s ridiculous,&uot; said M.L. Circuit Clerk &uot;Binkey&uot; Vines. &uot;In county court, it was ridiculously hot.&uot;

Officials had to push the start of court back an hour and sent one potential juror home sick due to the heat, Vines said.

The employees blame the heat on the timer operating the courthouse’s air conditioner.

This year, the Adams County Board of Supervisors placed the system on a timer after upgrading the heating and cooling equipment.

The board contracted the work to Johnson Controls Inc.– an energy saving company for around $1 million.

The company upgraded heating and cooling systems in 10 county buildings. They also maintain the systems and guarantee monetary savings to the county in energy usage each year.

This spring, officials set the system’s chillers to come on a 6 a.m. and the air handlers to come on at 7 a.m. The system shuts down at 5:30 p.m. each day.

But this is often not enough time cool down the building before employees arrive, officials said.

Mondays are the worst because the system has been shut down for the entire weekend.

&uot;The recovery period on Monday morning is just taking a little longer,&uot; said Pat Powell, purchasing agent for the supervisors.

And this Monday, 150 potential jurors came to the courthouse at 8 a.m. for jury selection. Just the number of people involved in jury trials adds to the heat on the second floor of the courthouse, said Tommy O’Beirne, chancery clerk.

At 10:15 a.m. Monday a thermometer in the chancery court office read 80 degrees and &uot;that’s cool&uot;, Brasfield said.

But Powell, said the board is aware of the complaints and she plans to reset the timer to come on one to two hours earlier on Mondays.

Powell can adjust the schedule with a computer at the supervisor’s building on State Street.

Since the system has only been in place a short time, Powell said she thinks county officials are still working out adjustments.

&uot;It’s a learning process for everybody,&uot; Powell said.

Powell said the county wants to maintain a quality environment, in addition to saving money.

&uot;We’re not going to sacrifice the comfort just to save money,&uot; she said.

The schedule can also be adjusted on a temporary basis, if an office is having a program outside regular hours on a certain day, she said.

&uot;It’s no problem,&uot; Powell said, adding that county employees just need to contact her office in advance.