LAPORTE — Things were very chilly Tuesday inside the historic LaPorte County Courthouse because of a failure with a new heating system that is not designed for such extreme cold.
"I hope they got a deal on it, because they’re not meant for this kind of weather," LaPorte County Commission President Rich Mrozinski said.
Mrozinski was not on the three-member Board of Commissioners in 2015 when a new energy-efficient heating and cooling system was part of nearly $7 million in renovations at the courthouses in LaPorte and Michigan City.
Rich Gramarosa, head of maintenance for LaPorte County government, said the provider is scheduled to make repairs Wednesday.
Two compressors on the third floor burned up from the demands placed on them by subzero temperatures.
A computer control panel on the first floor that calls for heat when needed is also not working properly, so the system was being turned on manually to generate heat out of the two remaining compressors.
Gramarosa said the system works fine until wind chills reach 14 below zero.
"If we were further down south, they would have worked fine," Gramarosa said.
Heather Stevens, co-director of the Voter Registration Office on the first floor of the courthouse, said temperatures were in the mid-50s when she reported for work Tuesday morning.
By mid-day, she said, her office had warmed up to 64 degrees with help from space heaters.
"We’re just dressed warm. We’ll wait it out," Stevens said.
Mrozinski said county employees were given the option of staying home during the repairs because the heating system must be totally shut down until the fix is completed. He hopes it can be wrapped up in a day.
Whether the courthouse is open Wednesday will depend on how many employees show up, he said.
Mrozinski said the burned-up units will be replaced with ones that can withstand arctic temperatures.
Only the equipment, not labor, will be covered by the warranty.
"We’re trying the best we can to keep open for business," Mrozinski said.