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Jefferson jail appeal pushed back

June 05, 2002|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Oral arguments that were to be presented to the state Supreme Court of Appeals today over an appeal to a proposal to tear down the former Jefferson County Jail have been postponed until Oct. 9, lawyers in the case said Tuesday.

The oral arguments were postponed so the high court can study a referendum-related issue regarding demolition of county buildings, said Tom Michael, who is representing two local residents who are trying to save the jail.

When a government building is being considered for demolition, a state law allows 10 percent of the voters who voted in the last general election to request that the issue be put on the ballot for a decision, said Michael and Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney Michael D. Thompson, who is representing the Jefferson County Commissioners.

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Michael said it is interesting because neither he or the commissioners have raised the issue.

The Supreme Court raised the issue and wanted both sides to present briefs on how they view the law, said Michael.

The briefs must be submitted by Sept. 6, Michael said.

The Jefferson County Commissioners want to tear down the jail at the corner of George and Liberty streets and build offices.

Local residents Carol Gallant and Jim Whipple, as well as other residents, say the jail should be saved because it has historical significance. A treason trial was held there for a United Mine Workers official in 1922.

Jefferson County Circuit Judge Thomas W. Steptoe Jr. originally halted the demolition of the jail until the state Division of Culture and History could review the project.

Steptoe then ruled the commissioners could tear down the jail because a bill recently passed in the Legislature freed county governments from a requirement to conduct such historical reviews.

Gallant and Whipple are appealing that decision to the Supreme Court.

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