WINONA (AP) -- Justice wore a blindfold and hard hat when the 114-year-old Winona County Courthouse re-opened Monday after workers spent more than a year repairing water damage from a burst pipe.
Power saws buzzed, wires hung from junction boxes and dust settled everywhere, including the back of the wood-paneled door where District Judge Lawrence T. Collins' court was in session.
"We have a long way to go," said Pam Wolf, facilities manager. "It's dirty and it keeps getting dirty. We can't seem to keep it clean."
A complete renovation was necessary after a pipe burst in an upper courtroom Sept. 3, 2001, and flooded everything below it.
Visitors entered the building through a plywood tunnel Monday. A sign warned: "Danger, hard hat area."
But there were signs amid the construction debris that the courthouse was restored to some of its former glory. On the third floor, tea-green carpeting complimented peach-colored walls with wood paneling.
"I like it. The colors blend real nice with the woodwork," said Cindy Strelow, of the Winona Women's Resource Center. "I love the woodwork. I think it's going to be beautiful when it's done."
Despite scattered stacks of boxes and furniture, and an orange mop and bucket parked in the middle of the carpeted hallway, lawyers, defendants and Judge Collins found a way to conduct business on the fourth floor.
Susan Gottschalk, of the Department of Corrections Courthouse Unit, said her department settled into its new office and got organized last week. "We're doing pretty good," Gottschalk said.
Other courthouse employees had to adjust to newly installed workstations as construction workers moved through the areas and tackled leftover tasks.
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