in Houston, Texas
$250,000 wireless system doesn’t work; Potter County Courthouse restoration threatened
Wednesday, Aug 15, 2012, 01:22PM CST
By Curt Olson
Courthouse

The folks in Potter County are setting aside pomp and circumstance while they try to figure out why the $250,000 wireless network they installed in their courthouse doesn’t work.

What was to have been the nerve system for every modern technological convenience in a $15 million restoration of the 80-year-old building has become the county’s “worst nightmare,” the Amarillo Globe-News reports.

On a recent day, information technology crews rebooted the system at least 26 times without success. Department chief Shawn Gill told the newspaper he had no reason to expect the new system will ever work better than at 70 percent of its capacity.

Meru Networks the Sunnyvale, Calif. company that sold the system to Potter County, did not make itself available to answer the paper’s questions.

Should no wireless solution be found, the county would have to get permission from the state Historical Commission, which gave the county $5 million for the restoration project, to install cable in the walls throughout the building at a cost of $3 million.

It looks as though the rededication of the courthouse, scheduled for Saturday, will not go off as planned. County employees might not be moving back in mid-September as planned.

But maybe all this rescheduling should have been expected. This is the fourth time construction on the courthouse has been delayed since construction started at the end of 2009.

County Commissioners fined  the contractor, Journeyman Construction of Austin, $1,200 a day for failing to complete the project on time.

“It’s embarrassing to be dealing with this,” Commissioner Mercy Murguia told the Globe-News. “We can’t have a $15-million building we can’t move into.”

***

Contact Curt Olson at curt@texaswatchdog.org or 512-557-3800. Follow him on Twitter @olson_curt.

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Photo of Potter County Courthouse by flickr user fables98, used via a Creative Commons license.

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