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Jefferson County judicial center could be open by next year

February 22, 2008|By DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Jefferson County officials are continuing to work on plans for a new judicial center downtown and said Thursday they hope to have the facility open for business possibly by late next year.

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

Growing caseloads in courts are helping to drive the need for the facility.

Jefferson County Commission members were presented with a plan Thursday morning for a 41,000-square-foot judicial annex to be built behind the Jefferson County Courthouse and former Jefferson County Jail, which also is being renovated for government office space.

The annex would be three stories tall and its design would blend with the historical setting of downtown, said Tom Potts of Silling Architects & Planners, the firm that is working with the commission on the project.

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Although Potts said he would come back to the commissioners again with more detail about the exterior design, he said he might suggest a brick facade.

The first floor would be set aside for operations like family court, the second floor would be for the circuit clerk's office and prosecuting attorney's office, and the third floor would be for circuit courtrooms, according to the plan.

Security measures would include an elevator designated to safely move inmates through the building, according to plans.

Commissioner Rusty Morgan said he wants the annex to include a large meeting room for the community that has easy access.

Commissioner Dale Manuel said he wants to keep a close eye on yearly costs for paying off the facility.

When Morgan was talking about adding the community meeting room, Manuel said Morgan was "kicking the tires on a Cadillac when you can only afford a Chevrolet."

The facility would cost about $12.7 million and the commissioners have talked about borrowing money for the project.

Besides the community meeting room, the commissioners also decided Thursday to explore a design that would allow a fourth story to be added to accommodate future growth.

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