By John L. Ross / Staff Writer
Wednesday’s special-called meeting of the Whitley County Fiscal Court began and ended in the courthouse, but was mostly spent touring both the old post office and the “old” health department buildings across the street.
According to County Project Manager Amber Owens, it was to allow county magistrates to get better acquainted with the two buildings.
Each building has its own issues for the county to face.
Concerning the soon-to-be old health department building, the county currently owns a portion of the land on the old part of the Whitley County Health Department building, while the health department owns the rest.
The health department plans to move to its new facility near Exit 11 of I-75 this month.
But according to Whitley County Health Director Gail Timperio, who spoke of the building’s issues to the magistrates during the tour Wednesday, the health department paid for that portion of the property, but it somehow was deeded to the county.
Timperio said the health department paid for the property in 1955 to be exclusively used for the health department.
She explained they would like to get that portion of the property deeded to them, so they can move forward with their building plans.
She also reminded the fiscal court that the health department would sell its part of the property to the court for $300,000.
It was explained that a similar situation occurred with the health department building in Corbin, and was worked out by deeding the questioned property to the health department.
However, in order to do anything with this building, all the questioned property has to be in the health department’s name.
Also on the tour schedule was a walk-through of the virtually unused former post office building next door to the health department.
County Court Clerk Kay Schwartz would like to have a place close to the courthouse where the voting machines can be stored, in a one-story building that’s climate-controlled.
Right now, the machines and other election-related equipment and supplies are kept in that post office building — which has no heat, no air, and contains both evidence of rodents and asbestos.
White said during the last fiscal court meeting there was no suitable space for the machines in the 15,000-square-foot health department building, but a climate-controlled room could be built, attached to the building, or built separately in the parking lot.
“The old Post Office is suitable for the machines, but there’s a lot of asbestos there. The building needs a lot of work,” Schwartz said.
The old Post Office was built by the WPA, the Works Progress Administration, during the time Franklin D. Roosevelt was president. It also contains a mural called “Floating Horses Down the Cumberland River,” painted by artist Alois Fabry in 1939.
Once magistrates gathered and resumed their meeting back in the fiscal courtroom, the discussed the various possibilities of what to do with the two buildings.
“At this point, knowing what Gail (Timperio) explained to us, I’m sure I’m not interested in purchasing the building,” said Magistrate Jamie Fuson, adding he was not opposed to working out the deed situation with the health department. “It’ll end up costing us (money) and we don’t need that.”
However, it was noted that the $300,000 price tag for the county to purchase the health department building will remain for now.
Magistrate David Myers motioned to approve signing the deed to the property over to the health department, with a second from Magistrate Robbie Brown. “We don’t need to hold them up,” Myers said.
Magistrate Roger Wells agreed. “We should deed it to them,” he said.
A roll-call vote showed the court was unanimous with this decision.
Owens explained the reason magistrates toured the post office was to see just how much equipment and other election necessities are currently stored in the building, so they would know how much space is necessary.
By John L. Ross / Staff Writer
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