Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

August 21, 2013

Aug. 21, 2013: Letters to the editor

Kokomo Tribune

---- — Tipton Courthouse designed to last

In February 1888, nearly 1,000 residents of Tipton County signed a petition requesting the county commissioners begin the process of planning and building a new courthouse to replace the outmoded brick building. The commissioners were soon besieged by all manner of architects, draftsmen and contractors.

Then one of the commissioners took charge and stated that what was wanted for the people of Tipton County was a courthouse that would serve them for 100 years. This commissioner then proceeded to dismiss all of the competitors and select a man well-qualified for the job — his friend, Indianapolis architect Adolph Scherrer, designer of the Indiana state capitol building.

If any mistakes were made, this commissioner would take responsibility for them.

But when the new courthouse was completed, not one error was made in its construction. Jacob G. Off, a native of Germany and a prominent Tipton County farmer since 1865, was the county commissioner whose 100-year vision has now been realized, even exceeded.

The very first courthouse in Tipton County was a 24-foot by 20-foot, two-story building built of hewn logs, and finished inside for a cost of $473.50. This building burned in 1857, and a new two-story brick building was planned to replace it. The site would be where the present courthouse now stands, having first been cleared of stumps and brush by James Cassler for $13.12.

The original cost projected for this building was $10,000, and work was begun in June 1858. But at its completion in 1859, the amount had grown to $15,000. This brick courthouse served until 1892, when plans for the present building were begun.

Before construction could begin there was considerable debate over whether to retain a pretty grove of maple trees that had been planted around the old brick courthouse. The issue was resolved, under questionable circumstances, when someone slipped in and hacked away the bark, deadening the trees and making their removal a necessity.

The new building became a monument to Commissioner Off. Begun on April 6, 1893, it measured 92 feet by 125 feet, rose 66 feet up the walls to where the roof began, and the northwest corner tower rose 206 feet above the Tipton County prairie.

The tower housed a clock with a specially cast striking bell weighing 3,000 pounds, 8-feet high and 4-feet wide at the bottom. It was originally operated by a time weight of 400 pounds, and a striking weight of 1,100 pounds that hung through four floors, but was later converted to an electric motor.

The time it took to wind the clock — said to be one hour’s steady cranking every week — was undoubtedly a factor in calling for the changeover.

Pierce & Morgan of Indianapolis were the contractors, and while they worked on the new building the various county offices were temporarily located in rooms around the square. Finally, on Oct. 16, 1894, Charles Pierce walked into the makeshift clerk’s office over the Blue Front Drug Store, handed deputy clerk J.O. Bunch a key, and announced, “She’s finished, and you can move in anytime!”

The new building was contracted for $183,411.30 and was completed within the appropriation.

Today “she” dominates the city skyline, and can be seen on the horizon for several miles from any direction. Like any fine lady, she lends great beauty to her surroundings and fills the downtown with her regality.

And she still serves the citizens of Tipton County, just like she was envisioned to do — 120 years ago!

Jeff Hatton


Restructure school, employer websites

Recently, I have become aware of a “situation.” I became aware of it during the course of my job search activities.

If you are not regularly involved in the job search process, you may not have noticed the majority of employers currently hire online. Many of these potential employers have their websites linked to the websites of one or more online “schools.”

Also, many of these school websites are designed to lock up the process if you respond to the school in the negative, thus forcing you to accept these school pitches.

So what is the solution? For openers, restructure the employer and school websites to be totally independent from each other.

Kenneth Crockett