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Town of Bath mayor wants collaboration on new Morgan County Courthouse

November 30, 1999|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. ? The mayor of the Town of Bath said Friday she wants collaboration by town and county officials on plans for the new Morgan County Courthouse.

"The town wants to be part of the planning and be in the new building," Susan Webster said.

Webster said the offices for the Town of Bath and Berkeley Springs Water Works, the town-owned water department, should be included in the courthouse building, "and possibly, if there is room, the Bath Police Department."

The former courthouse, which opened in 1908 at the corner of Fairfax and Washington streets, was destroyed in an Aug. 8 fire.

At a meeting with West Virginia University community design team members, Webster said she wants to hear public ideas regarding the new courthouse and to "talk about a collaboration of what is put there." She said "three stories, instead of two, should be considered" for the new courthouse.

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The design team was invited by town officials to help plan physical improvements and to discuss how to use a $200,000 Streetscape grant that was awarded in November 2004 for enhancements in the town.

Morgan County Commissioner Tommy Swaim told the design team there might be problems with designing the courthouse, and "it is very important that we work together."

"I'm not opposed to looking at (a collaboration with the town)," but "personally I'm against it," Swaim said later.

Swaim said there would be too much congestion and "too much confusion with municipal center traffic and Berkeley Springs Water Works traffic."

"The municipal center traffic ? it's a busy place," he said.

Swaim said the Morgan County Sheriff's Law Enforcement office was moved from the courthouse after the fire, and the sheriff and deputies are housed at the Morgan County Rescue Service building on U.S. 522 and will remain there.

"We moved the sheriff's department out, and the commission and planning office will be out of the courthouse," Swaim said. "It's too confusing, and it needs to be spread around."

Webster said the town can help finance the new courthouse complex by "bringing in grant money, float bonds and loans."

Webster said West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin and state Sen. Walt Helmick support the collaboration idea.

Joe Martin, Manchin's deputy chief of staff, said earlier that a combination city/county building should be considered for additional usage.

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