April 19, 2018
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Broken toilet floods Lincoln courthouse


LINCOLN, Maine — Repairs are under way at Lincoln District Court after a malfunctioning toilet created water damage that forced clerks to race to save 25 years of paper records, Clerk of the Court Sharon Webster said Wednesday.

“We did not lose anything,” Webster said Wednesday. “We were tremendously lucky.”

Workers from Paul Davis Restoration & Remodeling of Milford apparently have stripped away most of the damaged timbers and fixtures from the first floor and basement.

The courthouse building also serves several agencies, including First Wind of Massachusetts, which has a basement office.

The records, from Lincoln and Millinocket District Courts, number more than 60 large file boxes or cartons. Millinocket consolidated with Lincoln’s court on July 1. The records are important, Webster said, because while most, if not all, of them are in court computer systems, the paper versions by law must be on hand.

Webster said that as far as she knew, insurance adjusters had not yet set a final tally on the repair and replacement costs of the mishap, which occurred over the Labor Day weekend when the toilet in the clerk’s office bathroom on the first floor started running and never stopped.

“It probably ran a couple of days, anyway,” said Joe Ouellette, project manager with Paul Davis Restoration & Remodeling.

Lee Haskell, whom Webster identified as one of the owners of the building, did not immediately return messages Wednesday.

Nick Nason, a fire and water technician with Davis, expected that the water damage removal work would be finished by the middle of next week. Reconstruction will follow.

“We have the first-floor water mitigation completed, and we are in the process of drying out the basement right now,” Nason said. “It’s going very well.”

As near as anyone can tell, Webster said, the mishap occurred sometime late in the morning of Saturday, Sept. 4, after First Wind workers left the building, and continued until the next Monday.

Webster commended Lincoln clerks Rebecca Hanscom and Krystal McCannell and Diana Durgin, a clerk from Newport District Court who came to Lincoln once the water damage was discovered, for their quick work.

They and Webster spread wet files on the courthouse benches and in dry areas of their office and the basement and used large dehumidifiers to dry them out. Davis’ crews and the building’s owners also have helped allow court service to go uninterrupted.

“Everybody has gone above and beyond to help us,” Webster said.

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