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Jefferson Co. eyes $10 million court annex

July 17, 2007|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - County officials are projecting that a proposed Jefferson County court annex in downtown Charles Town will cost $10 million to $11 million.

The commissioners have a "good bit of money in the bank" and are hoping they can save slot-machine revenue they receive from Charles Town Races & Slots for the project and not have to resort to other ways of raising money for the facility, Jefferson County Commission member Greg Corliss said Monday.

Last Thursday, the commission decided to spend about $700,000 to hire an architect to draw up plans for a court annex.

County commission members have talked for years about building a court facility to meet the county government's growing space needs, and several proposals have been made.

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Corliss said the proposed annex behind the current Jefferson County Courthouse would have about 40,000 square feet of space and would house two circuit courtrooms, a new circuit clerk's office and other county offices.

The annex will be connected to the former Jefferson County Jail, which is being renovated for county offices.

Although the architect working on the project will be in charge of the exterior design, the county wants the annex to blend with architecture of other historic buildings in town, and not be a "big stark" modern building, said Kirk E. Davis Sr., capital projects manager for the county.

"It's going to be fairly well hidden, except from Liberty Street," Corliss said.

Commission member Dale Manuel said workers will have to drill into the ground behind the former jail building to make sure the annex has a solid base. County officials want to make sure the site is suitable for the building, since there is an underground lake in the area, Manuel said.

Corliss said growing court operations downtown are driving the need for a new court facility. In addition to sitting Jefferson County Circuit Judge Thomas W. Steptoe Jr., Berkeley County Circuit Judge Gray Silver III now comes to Jefferson County to conduct court, Corliss said.

When that happens, space in Jefferson County Magistrate Court has to be used for the additional court sessions, Corliss said.

"It jams up things. It's an ongoing problem," Corliss said.

Corliss said the new court facilities need to be in place by 2009.

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