The Cumberland Homesteads Tower needs new roofing and repairs.

Last week Brenda King, president of the Cumberland Homesteads Tower Association, told the county’s building and grounds committee the group needs help with the repairs.

“We have irreplaceable items in the display area, and the roof leaks. If they get wet, they’ll be ruined,” King said. “There’s a musty odor, the building is missing gutters, the roof is asbestos, the windows need to be sealed. We’re concerned.”

King said she sent a letter to Cumberland County Mayor Allen Foster advising him of the situation.

“We’re there to preserve it, but if much more water leaks in there will be damage. We’re asking for help,” King said.

Adam Sebia, the county’s interim maintenance director, said he had gotten some estimates on roofing repairs.

Sebia said there were three estimates — $75,000 with a one-year warranty on the labor; $120,000 with a five-year warranty on labor and $153,000 with slate shingles, similar to what is on the building. He said the cheaper prices were for regular shingles, which carry a 50-year guarantee. He said the slate shingles carried a 75-year guarantee.

“That doesn’t cover the cost of any wood if it has to be replaced,” he said.

Rebecca Stone, 3rd District commissioner, asked if the Tower Association had any funds put aside for maintenance and repairs on the structure.

King said they were paying for a roof replacement at the Cumberland Homesteads Museum House and upgrades for the grounds near the tower.

“We had electrical problems and are having to pay for that work for the Apple Festival,” King said.

Cumberland County Finance Director Nathan Brock asked if the association is for a donation from the county or for the county to do the project.

“The tower is owned by the Board of Education and there’s a lease agreement between them and the Tower Association,” Brock said.

He explained the group could put in a request for consideration during the county’s budget process.

“We would require a copy of the financials like all nonprofits and a letter of request,” Brock said.

King said that wouldn’t be an issue.

“We would like for you (the county) to do the project. That’s a lot of money for us. We can give you the paperwork, but we can’t just sit and let this happen,” King said.

Charles Tollett, CHTA board member, said the agreement between the BOE and the association was signed in 1970 — but it is a county building.

Stone said, “It is a county building, and the timing is right to go through budget.”

Sue York, 1st District commissioner, asked if there might be some grant funds available.

King said they are checking into grants, and there may be one for electrical.

Wendell Wilson, 6th District commissioner and building and ground chairman, said, “There needs to be testing done for the asbestos and the roofing.” 

Sebia said he is checking into free testing and will know soon.

“If we don’t protect and preserve this, it’s just going to deteriorate,” King said.

Colleen Mall, 9th District commissioner, asked, “How many visitors come to the tower?”

Tollett said last year they counted 10,000 visitors from 50 different countries.

“It’s a big draw for the county, and a lot of people come here from all over, especially for the Apple Festival. It brings a lot of tax dollars into the county,” King said.

“Well, you know how government is slow. We start working on the budget in May. It will be August before it’s approved and then to bid things out it would be October before they got started on it. There’s going to be a lot of rain between now and then,” Nancy Hyder, 2nd District commissioner, said.

“I agree, and we don’t know the real cost for the roofing. And we want to do it right. We should be able to have all the figures by April with the estimates — we’ll be able to get a price on all,” Wilson said.

The committee will discuss updates on the potential project during its next meeting.

Sebia gave the following project updates to the committee:

•Archives facility — the basement is all cleaned out. They are waiting for the windows and will get those bid out.

•EMS parking lot — the paving project won’t be started until after April 1 to mid-April. The group will have to wait for the rains to dry.

•Justice Center generator — the new generator has still not arrived. It was supposed to be delivered March 1. Brock said the county continues to pay for a leased generator system. Brock was directed by the committee to contact Stowers in Crossville and renegotiate the leasing cost of the leasing.

Gary Nelson may be reached at