Cass County officials battle mold, deterioration to save historic courthouse

Money has already been approved for mold eradication, but more funding is needed.

Posted on March 17, 2014 at 1:57 p.m.

CASSOPOLIS, Mich. — The 1889 Cassopolis courthouse — a once-busy building for everything from deed registration to filing marriage licenses — sits vacant as county offices moved into the nearby courthouse annex and the courts moved into a new building on the west side of the village.

Because of its 10-year vacancy, the former courthouse is in disrepair. Cass County commissioners are seeking citizen input about the building’s future repairs and potential use.

The first item on the county’s agenda was to rid the building of mold. This was done this month when the board agreed to spend $275,000 as recommended by County Maintenance Supervisor David Dickey, who said the mold would have to be eradicated to preserve the building.

The board also discussed its plans to consult with the public about either preserving or wrecking the structure. The project is headed by Commissioner Robert Ziliak, R-District 5, who sent out questionnaires to the public. At the board meeting, he said the public appears in favor of restoring the building thus far. He said he received more than 400 responses and will have a complete compilation by the next board meeting.

The former courthouse’s infrastructure also needs repairs to the heating, ventilation and air supply systems. County Administrator Roger Fraser said there is a broken line that feeds the heating system and it needs to be updated. Roof repairs are also needed, he said.

Fraser said the cold weather doesn’t support the growing of mold so as it gets warmer, the mold will grow again and “could grow fast.”

“We are trying to get it done early enough so as not to get into expanded problems,” he said.

Commissioners also visited restored courthouses in other counties. The board will meet again to discuss on March 20.

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