WILKES-BARRE – It may seem like a minor inconvenience, but Luzerne County officials said there were big problems when both elevators broke down inside the courthouse yesterday.
Luzerne County Operation Services Division Head Tanis Manseau told Newswatch 16 that one elevator was out of service today, and both elevators were broken down for six hours on Tuesday.
“The elevators are 40-plus-years-old. The cab that you ride, any of the mechanical operations pieces, motors, electrical starters,” Manseau said when explaining the need to replace them. “Elevators can be a finicky item. That doesn’t remove the chance that one or both wouldn’t fail again, but it reduces that chance.”
Manseau said funds to replace the elevators have been secured, but plans to put the project out to bid were delayed because county engineers left to take new jobs.
Other county employees said that inmates had to be unshackled to walk up and down three flights of stairs to attend court hearings when both elevators were broken down Tuesday.
During her visit inside the Luzerne County Courthouse, Gerry Jusinski said she is avoiding the aging elevators after hearing about the recent mechanical troubles.
"I did hear about the problems so we took three flights of stairs,” said Jusinski. "The older people, they get stuck in the elevator, you don`t know how long they`re going to be in there. Me myself, I would just have a heart attack and die because I’m claustrophobic. So I’m not going in them.”
State officials told Newswatch 16 that the elevators passed inspection last month.
According to officials with the Americans with Disabilities Act, there were no complaints and there does not appear to be any violation, because the elevator issues were unexpected and court officials accommodated visitors with disabilities.