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Joyce Rorabaugh, Cumberland County archivist, shows tentative remodel plans for the Cumberland County Archives and Family Heritage Center drawn by Kim Chamberlin of Upland Design Group. The plans include removing the back portion of the facility and building a new two-story addition onto the back in its place.

Estimates for an overhaul of the Cumberland County Archives and Family Heritage Center could cost as much as $2 million.

Joyce Rorabaugh, Cumberland County archivist, showed the county’s building and grounds committee plans for the tentative overhaul during last week’s committee meeting.

“This is a maximum, high-end number,” Rorabaugh said.

Rorabaugh said Kim Chamberlin, architect with Upland Design Group, had completed conceptual drawings of the remodel, which totally removes the back half of the current facility, but keeps the original church portion in the front of the facility on E. First St.

“He said we cannot salvage any of the back portion. We’d have to totally build a new addition. The original church we’ll try and keep. He told me that if there is any talk of trying to salvage the rear part then he is out of the project,” Rorabaugh said.

Chamberlin has donated some of his time to review the facility and its needs.

Rorabaugh said the new addition would add 3,800 square-feet on each level.

“It’s three stories now. We’d build a new two story on and have it set up to where you could possibly add two more if needed in the future.”

Portions of the area are unusable at this point due to issues with the structure and water and mold damage.

She said the new addition would include a fire-proof vault with double thick walls, and a large workroom on the bottom floor and meeting room.

“He said according to his estimate we’re looking at around $2 million,” Rorabaugh said. “He needs a commitment of support from the committee before going any farther. It shows support of what we’re doing.”

She said they were in the planning phase and they were projecting a building that would last 50 years.

Wendell Wilson, 6th District commissioner and building and grounds committee chairman, asked if the revenue stream from fees now generated by the archives and public records could cover the cost.

“It generates roughly $80,000 per year,” Rorabaugh said,

Cumberland County Mayor Allen Foster said, “It may cover $1million but not $2 million.”

Rorabaugh said, “We will apply for a grant that could pay for half of what we spend up to $100,000. That might get some of it.”

Wilson asked what kind of timetable they were looking at on the project. 

Rorabaugh said roughly 18 months from the point of tearing down the back of the facility.

She said Chamberlin told her there are too many problems with the portions in the back of the facility that had been additions put on the church in the 1950s and 1960s. There is a lot of moisture damage, foundation problems, leaking, windows that must be replaced and there really was no way to save it due to the structural damages.

Rorabaugh said students at the Tennessee Technology Center at Crossville would be able to do much of the work, saving the county money.

Wilson said, “TCAT can do a lot of the work but we have to pay for supplies.”

Sue York, 1st District commissioner, said, “I think it’s going to be really good, but there’s nine new commissioners since we looked at the building before. I think we need to have a tour over there.”

Wilson agreed and suggested the committee set its next meeting there.

Carl Mcleod, 9th District commissioner, asked, “Did we have a number for repairs before?”

Foster said, “No, we haven’t.”

Jim Blalock, 8th District commissioner, said, “We’ve done a lot of rebuilding. I don’t think you can build that building to last 50 years. More like 15 to 20. We need to build something for everybody. Something to keep. I’m not trying to tear down everything, but there’s no use to spend good money after bad. When you start tearing stuff out and rebuilding for sprinkler systems and electric, it’s a big project. I wonder if we’re doing the right thing … I think we need to take care of all the problems in the county.”

Foster said, “It would be a good question to ask Kim (Chamberlin). The newer part in the facility is in worse shape than the original.”

Chamberlin was unable to attend the meeting.

Wilson said, “To Jim’s point, if we just build a new building we can do a lot for $2 million.”

The committee then agreed to meet next month, Monday, Sept. 9, at the Archives facility at 4:30 p.m. for a tour.

Rorabaugh said she is willing to give tours to any of the commissioners who come by the facility when she is available.

Under a building maintenance update, Conrad Welch, county building and maintenance supervisor, said the new, automatic handicapped door was installed at the Tennessee Stone Museum adjacent to the courthouse. The building is currently housing the museum and Crossville Meteorologist Steve Norris. Welch said the door needs to be stained, otherwise it’s working perfectly.

He said the restrooms at the Community Complex are being renovated and the new back wall is under construction and electricity is going in. He said it will be completed in time for the Cumberland County Fair at the end of this month.

Welch said he is waiting for bids for paving work at the Cumberland County EMS parking lot.

Welch said he is investigating problems at the Art Circle Public Library with HVAC problems. He said the units are special ordered and take up to 18 weeks to be built. He said if there were another comparable brand to use it could speed up the repair process. The group will be using heavy-duty fans in order to help cool the upstairs of the library building.

Committee members Rebecca Stone, 3rd District; David Gibson, 4th District; and Jerry Cooper, 7th District, did not attend the meeting.

Gary Nelson may be reached at

Crossville Chronicle senior staff writer