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Treasurer’s office flooding a serious issue at Clare County Courthouse

There’s a leak at the Clare County Courthouse but it’s not a person trying to spread information. Instead it’s in the roof and it’s causing endless hassles for Clare County Treasurer Jenny Beemer-Fritzinger as was discussed during Wednesday’s Board of Commissioners meeting.

 The leak is in the roof in the area of Beemer-Fritzinger’s office. It is severe enough to cause serious flooding within it whenever the area is affected by heavy rain and wind storms.

 “It’s like a hurricane,” Beemer-Fritzinger said, noting recent storms have swamped her office with literally gallons of water. “It is just crazy.”

 Oddly according to Board Chairman Don David the leak only shows up when there is both wind and rain, when there is only heavy rain there is no issue but when there is also wind the water pools on the roof over her office and drips in.

 “I don’t think it’s the drains (on the roof),” David said. “If it was then it would happen every time it rains.”

 Workers were up on the roof Wednesday during the meeting moving stones and using a power washer, audible in the meeting room, in an attempt to clean the roof and find the leak. They succeeded unexpectedly, the water from the power washer came dripping into the office during the meeting leading Beemer-Fritzinger’s staff to gather trash cans and garbage bags to cover electronics and catch the water. It’s become a common process.

 “I have to cover my computer, phone and adding machine with garbage bags every time I leave,” Beemer-Fritzinger said.

 While the office got wet again David reported later in the county’s board of commissioner meeting Wednesday that the workers had found the source of the leak in the process. He said the source was a stress crack in the masonry, an issue he added can be fixed by putting silicon in the crack but also one that is prone to coming back even after repair.

 “Once it is really wet it has something to follow and it sucks (the water) right in, ” David said describing the type of crack.

 “The sad part is it appears it’s the roof we just put on,” Board Vice Chair Jack Kleinhardt added.

 According to Beemer-Fritzinger the courthouse leak first began in around 2007 when the roof was last redone by a company she said had since gone out of business. It has been a more severe problem of late.

 “It should be a book it has taken so long,” David said of the leak process, which was discussed briefly in another board meeting earlier this month.

 According to Beemer-Fritzinger  the leak has been severe enough in the past  for water to get into her office telephone and cause some minor spray off from the buttons the next time she tried to use it. As one might expect she said the leak hampers her office’s effectiveness on the days it appears.

 I don’t get any work done,” Beemer-Fritzinger said. “I’m tempted to just close on those days.”

 Discussing the leak before the crack was found Commissioner Lynn Grim said the repair could no longer wait and they needed to get funding for it as soon as possible. County Administrator Tracy Byard suggested taking care of the issue through insurance if needed while David said it could be put through as an emergency cost. David also noted if they did it as an emergency cost they would not need to take bids on the project and could just hire a roofer.

 The process of getting funding to fix the roof should be a quick one. The current leak is not the first in the courthouse roof. According to Grim before the current roof was put in place the older roof it replaced had leaks of its own around 1999 and 2000.

 Besides the leaking roof issue other topics tackled during the board meeting included the approval of both a 911 retention policy and a further discussion of the collaboration committee’s ongoing talks with Gladwin County. Kleinhardt expressing his concerns over the collaboration mandates that have come from Lansing.

 “It infuriates me,” Kleinhardt said of the issue, warning other board members to think carefully before approving anything in that area and believing having services closer to constitutes is better. “If you give power away you’ll never get it back.”

 The meeting began with a public comment by Rod Williams representing the Surrey and Grant Township trustees. He delivered a letter from the organizations proposing to open to authorize more roads in those townships for off-road vehicle use. The board set a goal of having a public hearing on that issue by September 17.