Steele County Commissioners vote to fix water-damaged historic c - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Steele County Commissioners vote to fix water-damaged historic courthouse


A broken water pipe gushing in the attic of the historic Steele County Courthouse has temporarily displaced workers and disrupted county operations. 

But county commissioners met in an emergency meeting on Friday afternoon and voted unanimously to fund repairs for the 125-year-old building.

A pipe in the attic burst filling most of the courthouse with water on Tuesday. All three levels of the courthouse were affected. Workers were immediately evacuated while Owatonna firefighters and county maintenance workers responded to the broken water pipe.

Three days later, the courthouse is still in the drying-out process. Steele County Administrator Laura Elvebak reported in a news release that "a complete assessment of the building has not been completed. The County's insurance adjuster has been onsite. The building will be closed until further notice."

Elvebak said she doesn't know how it will cost to fix the damage. 

"So far what we've heard is a lot of people in disbelief. When you see the pictures and see the damage, it's quite unbelievable," said Elvebak.

The water ruined ceiling tiles and carpet, and the elevator is out of commission until further notice.

All courthouse operations have been moved to different buildings. The Steele County District Court has been temporarily relocated to the Owatonna Fire Hall, and Steele County Probation Services has been relocated to the Steele County Attorney's Office.

The County Administrator said she does not know what caused the pipe to burst, and cannot say when the courthouse will be up and running again.

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