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Old court building to be sold at auction

November 17, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Saying the building no longer meets any of the county's needs, the Jefferson County Commission has decided to put the old Jefferson County magistrate court building up for auction.

The two-story court building, at the corner of George and Congress streets, was vacated three years ago when the county moved its magistrate court operations into a newly renovated, $3.5 million court complex a short distance away on George Street.

Since then, county officials have studied the possibility of using the building for new court offices, but determined it would not work, said Commissioner Greg Corliss.

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The commissioners have been studying ways to create more court space downtown, especially for circuit court, Corliss said.

The old magistrate court building is too small for a circuit courtroom, Corliss said Sunday.

"The building is deteriorating, so it would be nice to get someone in there" before it gets any worse, he said.

Corliss said he did not know of a date for the auction or whether there would be any conditions for the bidding process. He said those issues would be worked out by County Administrator Leslie Smith, who is putting together the public notice for the auction.

Corliss said someone has expressed interest in the building, but he declined to say who it is.

When it was used for magistrate court, the building had offices on the first and second floors. Two magistrate courtrooms were in the basement.

At the time, magistrates were anxious to get out of the building because of its limitations.

A sewer pipe ran through the ceiling in one of the courtrooms and magistrates often warned witnesses not to hit their head on the pipe when they came forward to testify.

Toilets could be heard flushing during hearings and parties involved in disagreements often had to stand face to face in the hallways of the building because there was no room to separate them.

Although the building was not ideal for court settings, it could be good for business space, Corliss said.

The building was appraised for about $150,000, but that is not a recent appraisal, Corliss said.

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