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Boone County, Ark. officials close Old Federal Building in Harrison indefinitely

Published: Jan. 19, 2022 at 4:34 PM CST
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HARRISON, Ark. (KY3) - Boone County officials notified the public Tuesday the Old Federal Building will be closed indefinitely as crews search for a possible gas leak.

Employees reported smelling a foul odor last Thursday located along North Main Street in downtown Harrison. Inspection crews, including the Arkansas State Labor Union, have been searching the building but so far no leak has been found. A bad gas regulator valve was reported last week and has since been replaced.

The Boone County Quorum Court held a meeting Tuesday night to decide on a course of action. A few relatives of the building’s employees voiced concern at the meeting. The quorum court made no decision beyond keeping the building closed.

Just shy of 110-years-old, the Old Federal Building is a part of the historical preservation. It has served many purposes over the years.

”That’s one thing that we have looked at, at this point,” said Fred Woehl, a county justice of the peace. “Trying to put it back to the way it was and it’s just one of those things that not economically feasible.”

The county previously closed the top floors after significant water damage. Maintenance crews have also been working to seal cracks and doorways causing bad air quality.

”Right now we’ve got two offices left in there, the collector and the assessor,” Boone County Judge Robert Hathaway said. “The rest of them we’ve been able to find lease spots, like the courthouse and stuff like that.”

While two employees are recovering at home after being diagnosed with carbon monoxide poisoning, the county maintains its stance employees will not return to work until the problem is discovered, or the building is deemed safe.

”You get to a point you don’t know where to go,” said Hathaway. “If you’ve done all the inspections and everything, it gets to a point you don’t know where to go then.”

County leaders do not know where to go as they have been searching for an alternate location for all county offices. As the county courthouse is also without a central heating system.

”Me and my staff here in my office, we’ve been looking for over a year (for a new location),” said Hathaway. “Going out at nights and looked at property and everything else trying to find a place for these offices and stuff. We’re still hoping that within a month we’ll have something.”

While it will take time, it puts the county in a predicament for the time being.

”That’s all kind of part of this, if we can find out in the next month or so if we can find a building I don’t want to spend a bunch of the taxpayers’ money on the building here,” said Hathaway. “At least (we) will know which way to go. We’re either buying land and building or buying a building that’s already there.”

Those wondering how to seek assessments and other property business with the county, you can reach out to the following contacts.

Boone County Collector:

- ar.gov/booneproptax

- amy@boonecollector.com

- 870-743-1093

Boone County Assessor:

- boonecountyar.com/assessor

- assessor@boonecountyar.org

- 870-577-7875

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