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Milwaukee County Courthouse reopens after fire (UPDATE)

By: Eric Heisig//July 24, 2013//

Milwaukee County Courthouse reopens after fire (UPDATE)

By: Eric Heisig//July 24, 2013//

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(File photo by Kevin Harnack)
(File photo by Kevin Harnack)

Two-and-a-half weeks after a fire that crippled the local courts system, the Milwaukee County Courthouse fully reopened Wednesday.

But work is ongoing to fix the damage caused by the fire, which broke out July 6 in the courthouse’s basement and wiped out the building’s electrical system.

Don Tyler, director of the county’s Department of Administrative Services, said during a news conference Wednesday afternoon that designs to rebuild the system are being drawn up.

He said the process will most likely be put out to bid in the next few months.

The courthouse, which was running on power from generators, is now being powered by a substation set up for the building.

Tyler also said repairs to ceiling tiles and carpeting on the building’s first few floors are also being done and should be completed in the next four to six weeks.

“We’ve got work to do yet our team, the restoration companies … continue to work late into the hours at night replacing the carpeting and tiles, we have to do that for the first three floors and we’re well under way of accomplishing that,” Tyler said during the news conference.

County Executive Chris Abele said it’s “a little early to say” exactly how much money the repairs will cost, but he said it will be paid by the county’s insurance.

The fire caused numerous delays for most court proceedings and larger-than-usual crowds for those whose cases were pushed back. Inside the courthouse, the air-conditioning system was unable to cool the entire building during one of the hottest weeks of the year.

But officials said most systems are working normally now. And the civil courts system – the last one delayed by the fire – resumed Monday.

During the news conference, Abele and other county and local officials, flanked by workers from the county, We Energies and contractor Pieper Power, praised the efforts to get the courthouse up and running.

“We wouldn’t be here today with an open building without their work,” Abele said.


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