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Berkeley Co. to get golden dome on courthouse

July 01, 2005|by CANDICE BOSLEY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Its dome will be painted gold, but unlike the state Capitol building's dome in Charleston, W.Va., the apex of the Berkeley County Courthouse in Martinsburg will not have real flecks of the precious metal on it.

It will be gold only in color, Berkeley County Commissioner Howard Strauss said Thursday.

The rest of the exterior of the historic courthouse, at the corner of King and Queen streets, also will be painted.

One bid, for $39,750, was submitted and opened during the commissioners' meeting. The price tag for the work was lower than expected, Strauss said.

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Painting the courthouse is one of several projects now under way, or possible, involving county-owned property.

n In the county's Dunn Building, at least one commissioner seemed hesitant to spend around $15,000 to install two new automatic gates over the entrances to the tax office and the assessor's office. The pull-down security gates - like those used in stores at shopping malls - must now be opened by someone who bends down to unlock them.

Although the automatic gates would open and close at the push of a button, the convenience is not worth the expense, Strauss said.

He said he doesn't know of anyone whose back has suffered because of the bending movements required to open and close the gates.

Strauss said he would "think about" a less expensive option of buying conversion equipment to make the existing gates automated.

-- In the commissioners' meeting room, work should begin in a few weeks on a $32,500 project to improve the room, which also is used by the Planning Commission and other boards.

Hearing people speak in the room can be difficult, especially when a heating unit or air conditioner begins running. The room is directly below the roof.

When a rooftop air conditioner started rumbling Thursday morning, a man sitting in the audience motioned to his hearing aid and shook his head, indicating he could not hear what was being said. He left.

To help alleviate the problem, contractors with Minghini's will lower the ceiling and install insulation in the gap between the new ceiling and the roof. Suspended florescent lights will be replaced with recessed lighting, and exposed pipes will be covered, according to written documents outlining the project.

Construction on the meeting room could take up to two weeks, Strauss said.

-- On another project, what sort of food service will be offered in the Dunn Building has not been determined.

Last week, the head chef of the Market House Grill, a downtown restaurant, proposed serving breakfast and lunch in the building, in space used as a restaurant when the building was part of an outlet shopping center.

On Thursday, Strauss said that The Community & Technical College of Shepherd, which leases the first floor of the Dunn Building, also is interested in offering food service.

College officials have spoken to a vendor who serves food at the Shepherd University campus in Shepherdstown, Strauss said.

No decision regarding the food service was made, but Strauss said after the meeting that the college would be given priority over another food provider.

"We have a good working relationship with the college," Strauss said.

-- A large project on the horizon concerns the Crawford Building, which is across Stephen Street from the Dunn Building.

On Thursday, the commission signed a contract with DMJM Design, an Arlington, Va.-based architecture and engineering firm, to conduct a feasibility study on the Crawford Building, for $26,830.

Once the feasibility study is finished, recommendations will be made on moving forward with design plans. The county wants to house the county clerk's offices and another courtroom in that building.

DMJM also is overseeing construction at the adjacent Berkeley Building, expected to open next summer as a comprehensive judicial center.

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