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Berkeley County could face more debt with Dunn building roof work

November 07, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Berkeley County taxpayers could be burdened with more debt so contractors can complete a roof and HVAC replacement project for the county's venerable administration building, officials said Thursday.

W. Harley Miller Contractors Inc. of Martinsburg has signed a contract to complete the work in nine months after submitting a successful $4,337,000 bid, Berkeley County Administrator Deborah Hammond said Thursday.

Awarded the bid on Sept. 18, 2008, the local contractor was the lowest of three bidders, but Hammond said additional financing likely will be needed to cover any change orders for revamping the historic woolen mill brick structure at 400 W. Stephen St. It is also known as the Dunn building.

"We will probably have to get some additional money to carry us out (to completion)," County Commissioner William L. "Bill" Stubblefield said Thursday after the commission's regular weekly meeting, which are held in the building.

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"The roof is in horrible shape," Stubblefield said of water leaks that have damaged a number of ceiling tiles in the commission's meeting chambers and equipment elsewhere.

The roof and air system project is expected to exhaust bond money that was originally budgeted, at least in part, for Phase 2 of the county's judicial center project on the south side of West Stephen Street.

W. Harley Miller also was the low bidder for the Phase 2 project in August 2007, but the work was shelved because of the economic downturn and the leftover bond money was diverted to complete the roof and air system work.

W. Harley Miller in August 2007 bid $12.8 million for Phase 2, which included renovation of the mill property now known as the Crawford Building to make room for more magistrate and circuit judges.

Brechbill & Helman Construction Co. received $19.4 million for Phase 1, which included conversion of a third building at the woolen mill complex into courtroom and office space for the state's magistrate, circuit and family courts, probation and county prosecuting attorney, and circuit court clerk.

Space for a fireproof vault required by state law for storage of circuit court records was left out of Phase 1 and now is being handled as a stand-alone project.

Hammond told commissioners Thursday that consultants working on the vault project are exploring what will be needed to accommodate future storage demands, given that the circuit court generates about 180 boxes of records annually.

"There are no easy questions," Hammond said.

A number of boxes of older circuit court records are now being stored in the county's former administration building at 126 W. King St., which the Commission hopes to sell after the new storage site is built.

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