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Ground broken for new Morgan County Courthouse

September 06, 2008|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. -- The rain and the groundbreaking for the new Morgan County Courthouse both were welcome on Saturday.

More than 250 people attended the ceremony and were kept dry under tents that included the stage and seating for the crowd.

Tom Seely, founder and former owner of Tom Seely Furniture in Berkeley Springs, said he was surprised by the large turnout.

"All the politicians are here," he said.

The cost for the new courthouse is estimated at $13.5 million. Construction time for the three-story, 45,000-square-foot building is 18 months, architect Tom Potts said.

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Morgan County Commission President Glen R. Stotler said the county was fortunate to get a loan from the state, and a lot of help came from Senators Walt Helmick and John Yoder and Delegates Daryl Cowles and Craig Blair, who were among those in attendance.

Stotler said the state waived the interest on a $9 million loan during construction of the courthouse, "which will save us about $100,000."

Stotler said Silling Associates, the architectural firm that designed the courthouse, lowered the percentage rate on its cost, which will save the county about $25,000.

West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin and U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito were guest speakers. Both paid tribute to the firefighters "who worked long hours to put out the burning courthouse two years ago," Capito said.

The Morgan County firefighters received applause and a standing ovation from the crowd.

The old courthouse was destroyed by fire on Aug. 8, 2006. The county government offices are in trailers that were placed on the old courthouse parking lot.

"Finally breaking ground is great," Morgan County Circuit Clerk Kim Jackson said. "I can't wait for Morgan County to have our judicial system back here up and running."

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