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Historical review of jail voted down

June 06, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

Another brief chapter was added Thursday night to the ever-growing tale of what to do with the old Jefferson County Jail when the Jefferson County Commissioners essentially voted themselves back to square one.

Jefferson County Circuit Judge Thomas W. Steptoe ruled March 31 that a historical review needed to be done to prove no other use for the building existed before the jail could be torn down.

At the commission's meeting, Commissioner Jane Tabb made a motion that bids be solicited to hire a consultant to conduct the review. That motion failed on a 3-2 vote.

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Where does the outcome of the vote leave the commissioners? "Good question. I don't know," Tabb said.

Tabb was steadfast in her opinion that the jail should be razed.

"I still think that the land that the jail sits on is very valuable to the county, more valuable than the jail itself," she told the commissioners.

Corliss, just as earnest that the jail should be saved, called Tabb's motion an underhanded way to move forward with demolition plans.

He said a historical review would be a waste of money, since, he argued, the jail already has been declared historic.

Those who support saving the jail have said it should be preserved because of its architecture and because of a series of trials that were held in Charles Town in 1922 for miners involved in a labor uprising. That uprising, referred to as the Battle of Blair Mountain, was in southern West Virginia.

Responding to Corliss' statement that the jail is historic, Tabb said the review would "either validate that opinion or throw it out."

Commissioners Corliss, Rusty Morgan and James Knode voted against doing the historical review.

During the meeting, Morgan said he agreed that the jail, which is vacant, is historic and should not be demolished.

Tabb and Commissioner Al Hooper voted for the review.

No members of the public, either for or against demolition, spoke before the commission.

Commissioners initially voted to tear down the jail in November 2000, which was before an election changed the makeup of the commission.

On Feb. 6, the commissioners, including those elected after the previous vote, again approved demolition.

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