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Courthouse renovation talks continue

February 26, 1998|By AMY WALLAUER

Courthouse renovation talks continue

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Discussions about renovations of the Berkeley County Courthouse continued Wednesday as the County Commission and architect Michael Proffitt reviewed options.

The projects to tackle first include the building's outdated electrical wiring and lack of emergency exits.

"When the building was constructed, we didn't have computers, we didn't have fax machines, we didn't have copy machines, and we need to upgrade to accommodate that," said County Administrator Deborah Sheetenhelm.

At next week's commission meeting, Proffitt is expected to have plans for where hallways and walls need to be cut for more exits and a rough cost estimate for electrical upgrades.

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Although the 106-year-old courthouse is in compliance with building codes, there are no emergency exits upstairs, which violates fire codes, Proffitt said.

The fire marshal has not issued violations, but told Proffitt what needs to be done during the renovations. Fire escapes must be added and the fire alarm and sprinkler system have to be upgraded, Proffitt said.

The commissioners said their top priority is bringing the building into compliance while preserving its historical integrity.

When he first revealed the space allocation study results last week, Proffitt gave the commission three long-term options:

* Renovate the existing building into county offices and construct a new courthouse.

* Renovate the courthouse and construct a new county office building.

* Raze the next-door circuit court building and construct a major addition.

The most cost-effective project is renovation of the courthouse into office space and building a new courthouse.

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