Most days when the Cambria County Courthouse closes at 4 p.m., construction sounds can be heard from the front lobby as walls are being prepared for the historical murals that soon will grace the entrance.
As the walls are being readied, the county commissioners on Thursday approved a contract with Ron Donoughe, the Loretto native who designed and will complete the artwork.
Donoughe, who now lives in Pittsburgh, will be paid $38,000 for his paintings. They will depict rural Cambria County in the north and the urban areas to the south.
Funding for the project will come entirely from discretionary courthouse funds handled by President Judge Timothy Creany.
The total cost, including wall preparation, will be slightly over $45,000, Creany said.
“It will all come from courthouse renovation money. None of it will come from the taxpayers’ wallets,” the judge said.
Work now being done involves wooden framing and drywall, a necessary step so the mural will remain in good condition for generations to come.
The real issue with the mural is integrity of the structure behind the artwork, making sure moisture from the walls won’t reach the paints, Creany said.
“We want to make sure it is there to stay,” he said.
A contractor is on board to do the wall preparation, but the county’s prison work crew also will be involved.
The murals will be located in an area where sheriff’s deputies take visitors through security screening, making the area congested at times.
Creany said the construction phase is being done after hours and on weekends in an effort to minimize congestion.
“We’re going to do it so it doesn’t interfere with courthouse operations,” he told the commissioners Thursday.
The 18-by-8-foot murals will be painted on the eastern and western walls with several smaller murals running along the bottom of each.
The rural county mural will depict the Noll’s Road area just outside Loretto, showing a grove of trees and farm fields in the fall.
The urban mural will feature the Franklin Mill, a longtime Johnstown landmark. The painting will be adapted from a 1970 photo.
Kathy Mellott covers the Cambria County Courthouse for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/ kathymellotttd.