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People across the country are looking for ways to make homes and buildings more energy efficient and save money on their energy bill. The same goes for many local governments.

On Thursday, November 13, 1969, a massive explosion tore through the second-floor of the Franklin County Courthouse in Union, MO. The dynamite bomb, planted by two career criminals who were robbing the bank across the street, destroyed the Classical Revival-style  building. The damage was evident in the main courtroom, all the second-floor offices, the sheriff’s communications center, and virtually every window in the three-story building was shattered.

Forty-three years later, the infamous courthouse is still processing renovations. And Franklin County is taking advantage of an opportunity provided by the Energy Department to save money on energy costs.

Thanks to an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant from the Energy Department, the historic building is installing a new energy efficient HVAC system. In addition, the $414,300 given to Franklin County also allows the Courthouse to upgrade the electrical system.

The new HVAC system will meet future technology needs and allows the structure to meet current building code. With the new system, the county has already seen a 30 percent reduction on their heating and cooling costs – which will continue for years to come.

County Commissioner Ann Schroeder said the grant funding could not have come at a better time.

“We had wanted to restore the courthouse to its former glory for years, but other priorities always took precedence," Schroeder said. “The timely support from the U.S. Department of Energy was the catalyst needed to breathe new life into this local landmark, while saving money on energy costs for our local taxpayers.”

The remainder of the $3 million project accomplished extensive architectural repairs and upgrades throughout the structure, even down to matching the original interior wood trim, marble hallways, 1930s paint colors and the cork floor in the court room.