Livingston Enterprise

Posted November 13, 2013 at 2:49 pm

After receiving a very hefty quote to renovate the Joe L. Evins Building into a county services building, members of the Building Site Committee said no, scrapped the plan, and dissolved their committee altogether.

Also during the meeting, Overton County Executive Ron Cyrus announced, “Overton County is in the running to get a new state veteran’s cemetery.”

All of this action, and more, occurred during a joint meeting of the Highway Property and Building Committee and the County Services Building Site Selection Committee held October 29 at the Overton County Courthouse Annex building.

The Annex building, which houses many county government and service offices, is in need of repair; reportedly major repair. It was built in 1946 and, according to a study by the Upper Cumberland Development District (UCDD), it has asbestos, mold, rusty galvanized pipes, the water is undrinkable and there are problems with the heating systems. With those issues in mind, commissioner Ben Danner wanted to consider other options–like getting a quote for renovating the Evins building instead of constructing a new building.

So during the meeting Tuesday night, Cyrus presented commissioners with a price quote for the renovation of the Evins building from Upland Design Group, which is an architectural firm out of Crossville.

The quote was for $3,650,525 and did not include the costs of installing a sprinkler system–$80,000 or so more dollars, or the costs of a new roof. According to Upland Design Group, it would not be possible, even after renovation, to make the Evins Building energy efficient.

Commissioner Donna Savage with the Property and Highway Committee, asked, “What happened with that $750,000 grant that was in the paper to do this building? How did that jump to this?”

Cyrus said the $750,000 figure was misrepresented. He said that figure was for the lower level, the overflow in the Joe L. Evins Building and only a portion of the costs associated with the project.

The Evins building was named after Congressman Joe L. Evins of Dekalb County and is more than 40 years old. Commissioners Rick Moles and Greg Nivens said they thought preserving and renovating the history-rich Evins building, which is the old community center, was a good idea. However, both agreed the price quoted for the renovations was high.

He said rather than renovating the old building, he thought it would be more feasible for the county to buy the Winningham property across the road from the Evins Building and erect a new building there. He said the county could then use the Evins Building lot for additional parking.

There was more talk about quotes on costs of building a structure from the ground up and locating it on the Winningham property and also more discussion on renovating the Evins building.w

Cyrus told the group that a private investor who at one time was interested in helping fund some of the costs associated with the county services project was no longer interested. He also said he didn’t think the taxpayers would be interested in taking on the funding, at this time, because of the economic downturn.

Cyrus said for the time being he wanted to dissolve the committee and put the issue on the back burner. He said more economic development first needed to take place in the area.