Two granite slabs that have served as the floor of the portico of Washington County Courthouse took turns dangling in the air Tuesday after being hoisted by a crane so the entrance could be repaired.
Heavy equipment arrived at about 6:30 a.m. and, with the help of city police, South Main Street at Beau Street remained closed for about an hour so the crane could be maneuvered into position, said Justin Welsh, Washington County director of buildings and grounds.
Each slab weighs about 5,000 pounds.
Last year, county commissioners awarded a $109,925 contract for courthouse granite slab removal and resetting to Cleveland (Ohio) Marble Mosaic Co.
Because the uneven slabs were considered a tripping hazard, they were first marked with cones.
But rather than cause someone to fall during the annual evening Christmas parade in early December, the portico was fenced off and no decorated fir tree graced the main entrance to the courthouse this past season.
Cleveland Marble was doing work out-of-state and the Washington County Courthouse project was pushed to January.
The entrance remained closed Jan. 3 during well-attended swearing-in ceremonies for county and judicial officials. Signs directed those entering the courthouse to West Cherry Avenue.
“Our intentions were not to put the fence up and walk away from it,” Welsh said.
“We wanted it to look good for Christmas, but do you want a liability on your hands?” he said, alluding to the potential that someone could have been hurt if the stately courthouse portico had remained open to the public.
“It was a safety concern.”
The remaining two slabs were initially scheduled to be hoisted Wednesday, but due to crew member illness, the work was rescheduled to Thursday.
GAI Consultants Inc., the county’s engineering firm, will be assessing the structural integrity of the portico base.
“They will be looking at beams, and what’s under the portico,” Welsh said. “The steps are OK. We won’t know how long the project will take until the county receives GAI’s assessment.”
The contract with Cleveland Marble Mosaic is being paid for from money allocated to the county from what is known as natural gas Impact Fee under the provisions of Act 13.