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Courthouse cornerstone placed

January 24, 2009|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.VA. -- As the cold wind swirled Saturday at the construction site of the new Morgan County Courthouse on Fairfax Street, more than 200 people watched a cornerstone-laying ceremony provided by the local Masonic Delford A.F.&A.M. Lodge 88.

On Aug. 8, 2006, the courthouse was destroyed by fire. Soon after, the Masons received permission from the Morgan County Commission to perform the ceremony to commemorate the new building.

Wearing aprons, some with gold fringe, about 100 Masons participated in the procession to the site. West Virginia Grand Lodge officers performed the ritual, including Grand Master Jerry E. Lewis, who led the ceremony.

A time capsule was placed inside the cornerstone with mementos.

Commission President Brenda J. Hutchinson said the capsule contents provided by the Morgan County Commission include a list of all of the Morgan County Courthouse complex employees as of Nov. 12, 2008, including their start dates, and a list of elected officials.

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Also included in the time capsule are a photograph of the soon-to-be-old Morgan County War Memorial Hospital signed by John Borg, president of the hospital, and Neil McLaughlin, vice president of operations; and a prayer written by Milestone Construction project superintendent Marty Reinhart asking for guidance, wisdom and safety for all who work on the construction of the courthouse.

The capsule also contains a seal pin from West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin and a letter from him recognizing the reconstruction of the courthouse.

"I am sure the new Morgan County courthouse will be a good benefit for many years to come," Manchin wrote.

Once the stone was mortared in by Lewis, it was ceremoniously squared, leveled and plumbed.

"The craftsmen have done their duty," Lewis said.

Corn then was scattered on the stone. After that, wine and then oil were poured on top by the Grand Lodge Masons.

The corn was scattered to symbolically preserve the workmen and give thanks for their labor, the wine was poured to bless the community's undertaking and the oil was poured to ensure everyone's peace and enjoyment of the building to come.

Grand Lecturer Stephen G. Swank said the cornerstone-laying ceremony is provided for Masonic buildings, churches, public buildings and schools.

Former Morgan County Commission President Glen R. Stotler was the special guest for the event.

"It makes me feel good to see it going up, and it is going to be a beautiful structure when it's done," Stotler said. "It will continue to be the cornerstone of this county."

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