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Temperature climbs in district courtroomTell North Platte what you think
Photo by Joe Chitwood
Temporary water hose returns water...
Photo by Joe Chitwood
...to the street.

The troublesome HVAC system at the Lincoln County Courthouse has become more problematic during recent days when temperatures reached 100 degrees.

Commissioner Joe Hewgley made arrangements Monday to dump clean “return” water from the heating and cooling system into the city storm sewer as, at least, a temporary fix. Hewgley talked to a plumber about running an underground line away from the courthouse.

Before the day was over, a crew from Beveridge Well Drilling hooked a hose to the indoor unit to carry return water to Fourth St. When a permanent fix might be made is not yet known.

The underground pump and return system appears to be incorrectly designed and/or incorrectly installed. It was installed in 2014-15. County officials say the system has never worked correctly.

In the geo-thermal system, water comes from underground at around 50 degrees. It is pumped and piped into the courthouse, where the cool temperature is removed from the water, condensed and used to cool the courthouse. The leftover warm water is returned underground.

In the courthouse system, only one well is used to remove and return the water. The intake and return water is apparently mixing below ground. The pump senses the water temperature and does not run if water below ground is too warm and there is no cool water to draw from.

Sending the return water to the city storm sewer should alleviate the problem for now.

The air quickly grew hot and stuffy Monday in the Lincoln County District Courtroom on the third floor. The judges gave attorneys permission to remove their suitcoats, and at one point during the morning session, Judge Richard Birch removed his robe and conducted court in his clothing -- pants, shirt and tie.

An electric fan blew on the court reporter to keep her as comfortable as possible.

The temperatures on the lower floors were more bearable. Smaller upstairs offices are able to keep cool by restarting the AC switch on the thermostat often, employees said.

The county commissioners filed a lawsuit in January against the well system contractor, Nebcon Inc. of Omaha, accusing them of breaching the contract. And, the board recently agreed to add the designer -- M.E. Group of Lincoln – as another defendant in the lawsuit. The defendants have not responded.

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 7/10/2017
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