Advertisement

Gambling helps Jefferson County buy court complex

February 05, 2001

Gambling helps Jefferson County buy court complex



By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town


CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - The Jefferson County Commission has purchased the building that houses its court complex in Charles Town for a little more than $2 million, according to Commission President James G. Knode.

The complex, which opened in January 2000, was being leased to the commission for $26,500 a month with an option to buy.

The commissioners had always planned to buy the building, but did not feel they would have enough money to do so for about five years, Commissioner Dean Hockensmith said Monday.

The commissioners were able to buy the building sooner than they expected because of favorable finances, Hockensmith said.

Video lottery revenues from the Charles Town Races, which were higher than the commissioners had anticipated, enabled the commission to put away between $400,000 and $500,000 for the court complex, according to Knode and Hockensmith.

Advertisement

Overall, revenue from video lottery at Charles Town Races has funded an estimated $2.3 million in improvements in the county since the commission started getting about 2 percent of the revenues in 1998.

In addition, because the opening of the magistrate court complex was about a year behind schedule, the commissioners had about a year's worth of lease payments set aside that could be placed toward the purchase price of the building, Hockensmith said.

"It just added up better than what we thought," Hockensmith said.

For every year the commission leased the building, the purchase price would decrease. But the price decrease was not equal to the amount of lease payments in one year, according to Knode.

The $3.5 million court complex was designed by First Charles Town Group, a corporation made up of Charles Town attorney Peter Chakmakian and Richard Weese. The project involved redesigning the St. Margaret's building beside the Jefferson County Courthouse, and expanding it by about 21,000 square feet.

The court complex provides county magistrates with a much improved work space. At the old magistrate court room along George Street, toilets could be heard flushing during hearings, parties involved in disagreements often had to stand face-to-face because there was no room to separate them, and magistrates often had to warn participants in hearings about a low-hanging sewer pipe that ran through one of the courtrooms.

The new court facility offers the latest in design and security, including 37 cameras that can be manually controlled to observe hallways and courtrooms.

Desks are equipped with panic alarms that are wired to 911 and the Charles Town Police Department, and bulletproof glass surrounds offices on the first floor.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|