Bell tower renovations completed under budget

Miranda Holman
Work was completed to the bell tower on July 27.

Logan County Judge Ray Gack confirmed the completion of the Paris Courthouse bell tower project, under budget and on schedule as of July 27.

The bell tower renovation was part of an ongoing project of the Logan County Courthouse in Paris that included 12 wooden columns and trim work that had to be specially made to fit the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program's requirements, which provided a grant for a portion of the project.

Renovations started in early spring to create a pattern made of the current woodwork to restore the bell tower according to historical records. "Because the courthouse is on the Historic Registry, we have to replicate the bell tower as it was originally," said Gack.

The pattern was made by HGA Creative Solutions out of Bentonville, with Greg Schluterman, from Paris, as director of the project.

In a previous statement, Judge Gack said that the bell tower project was needed because of rotted wood. "The bell tower is no longer a wish, but now an absolute need due to the wood falling off of it."

According to Gack, the winning project bid went to Ford Engineering with an initial estimated project cost of $248,000. The completed project came in at $247,860.21, just $139.79 under budget, due to no change orders during the renovations. Although the county applied for an additional grant to cover the cost of the upgrades, the county was denied due to previously supplied funds, "We made other improvements to the courthouse with funds from a grant, but now that those funds have run out, it falls solely on the county to take care of."

Even though the project was completed early last week, the construction team left the scaffolding for county and city workers to hang the Christmas lights back on the bell tower.

"The actual start date was June 2, so they made really good time on the project with where it is at. The location was the most difficult and expensive part of the job."

Gack said he thinks the team did an excellent job and he is really proud of the work.

"So far, everything looks really good. I am just anxious to get the scaffolding down to get a much better view of how it looks. Monday or Tuesday, they will start tearing the scaffolding."

The courthouse was rebuilt in 1909 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976.