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Scaled-down courthouse plan unveiled

August 17, 2007|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - A slimmed-down, two-story courthouse building design was presented by the Morgan County Commission Thursday night at a public meeting at Berkeley Springs High School.

The 32,000-square-foot building, at an estimated cost of $9.9 million, was the scaled-down version of the original three-story design that had a price tag of more than $13 million.

Tom Potts of Silling & Associates, the Charleston, W.Va., architectural firm hired by the commissioners, said the two-story structure will be designed and structurally built to add an additional story when funding becomes available.

"We have to anticipate a third floor, and it will be structurally designed as such with a concrete roof deck, and we have to consider all utilities to make it work," he said.

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A three-story shell will cost about $11 million and a completed three-story building has an estimated total cost of $12.9 million, Potts said.

The entrance will be on Washington Street and the building extends along Fairfax Street to the Magistrate Court building.

Potts said the administrative offices will be on the first floor and the judicial offices will be on the second.

The separate vault building behind the Magistrate Court would be renovated into probation offices, he said.

When the third floor is completed, the Magistrate Court will move there, and the Morgan County Sheriff's Law Enforcement Division will take over the Magistrate Court building, Potts said.

The county courthouse was destroyed by fire in August of 2006.

Commission President Glen R. Stotler said the commission has not been successful in acquiring the funding for the original plan, but will continue to work on it.

Stotler said the fire insurance payout will be about $4 million, and the commission is looking into a possible USDA loan of about $6 million.

Alternatively, the commission is trying to get a $9 million interest-free loan from the state Legislature.

Stotler said U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito is trying to get $1.7 million in federal funds for the courthouse. He said that funding will help to build the third-story shell.

He said the commission hopes to have a decision in three to four weeks regarding funding and "what can be built."

"It's hard to conduct county government in a bunch of trailers," Potts said. "The Morgan County Commission is working toward the best strategy to rebuild and continue to move forward."

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