Courthouse dome cleaning and pigeon prevention project likely to begin in three weeks

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A pigeon cruises through the air high above the Upshur County Courthouse dome without a care.

BUCKHANNON – The Upshur County Commission is ready to put an end to the plight of pigeons plaguing the Upshur County Courthouse dome.

Commissioners on Thursday approved a bid from Buckhannon-based TKS Contracting in the amount of $45,000; those funds will pay for the cleaning of the Upshur County Courthouse dome and the installation of pigeon-deterring spikes.

A group of pigeons who regularly perch on the dome – simply look skyward when you’re walking between the courthouse annex and main courthouse on Main Street – have taken up residence on the dome, soiling it with their excrement, which can eventually eat away at the dome, commissioners said.

Commission president Sam Nolte said the spikes won’t kill the pigeons – they’ll simply dissuade them from returning.

“We’re putting the spikes in because once we clean the dome, we’re trying to prevent them from coming back,” Nolte said. “That’s why we had to put in the price for [additional spikes] more because down the road because more than likely, they’re going to try to find other ledges, and we may have to continue.”

While the commission is directing the contractor to install 1,200 linear feet of NIXILATE Model S four-foot pigeon spikes, it also asked for on price tag on installing an additional 500 feet of spikes in the future.

“We requested that they provide us with how much it would cost per foot in excess of the 1,200 for the additional 500,” assistant county administrator Tabatha Perry explained.

That amount turned out to be $32 per foot.

So, why order extra spikes?

The commission worries the pigeons could find a home nearby.

“Right now, they don’t seem to be hanging on the annex building, but my worry is, once we do the dome, they’re going to go some place,” Nolte said.

Perry reminded commissioners they’d opened three bids for the courthouse dome cleaning and spike installation project at their Feb. 14 meeting, but all three bids had been lacking information.

“Greg Harris (director of the county maintenance department) advised to contact Steeplejacks and see if they could provide us with their contractor’s license, and they do not have a contractor’s license in the state of West Virginia,” Perry told commissioners at the outset of the meeting. “They work out of Ohio, which does not require a contractor’s license.”

Perry said according to the Contractor’s Licensing Act in West Virginia, any project totaling more than $2,500 must be completed by a contractor with a contractor’s license.

She said the next lowest bid was submitted by TKS.

“They have provided everything required,” Perry said.

Perry said the difference in price between TKS Contracting and Steeplejack was $6,000.

Commissioner Terry Cutright made a motion to award the project to TKS Contracting, which was seconded by commissioner Kristie Tenney before passing unanimously.

The project is expected to begin in about three weeks, Perry said.

“That’ll be nice to get that started,” Nolte said.

Tenney said the county has opted to invest in the project now so they wouldn’t have to spend more money later.

Completely redoing the dome of the courthouse would cost at least $173,000 compared to the $45,000 the county is spending to clean the dome and have the spikes installed.

Nolte noted the county isn’t alone in dealing with a pigeon problem.

“It’s not just Upshur County. Some people have asked us about the spikes,” Nolte said.

Cutright said Lewis County commissioners had consulted him about it the previous day.

Before adjourning, the commission also:
-Approved and signed a Federal Aviation Administration request in the amount of $64,265 to fund the airport improvement program project at the Upshur County Regional Airport.

“I’d like to point out that this is for a grant that the airport’s running through the county, so it is grant-funded,” Cutright said.

-Learned applications for the state Court Security Fund program are due April 3.

The regularly scheduled commission meeting on Thursday, Feb. 28 has been canceled, with the next meeting slated to take place at 9 a.m. March 7 in the Upshur County Courthouse Annex.