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Morgan County Courthouse gets the old courthouse look

September 02, 2009|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. -- A familiar sight returned Wednesday to Berkeley Springs to a round of applause.

A new 26-foot-high cupola was placed on the half-built Morgan County Courthouse, making the new structure start to resemble the old one.

More than 200 people waited patiently around the construction site, across Fairfax Street and in Berkeley Springs State Park from about 11:30 a.m. until the cupola was hoisted into place by a crane at about 2 p.m.

Many said it was the one courthouse feature they were waiting to see again, and that they had missed it since the 2006 fire that destroyed the old courthouse.

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"I've missed the clock tower so badly," resident Phyllis Berens said. "I've been waiting for this."

"The clock tower is very symbolic for the healing of downtown Berkeley Springs. It has been missed by the people of Morgan County," said Del. Daryl E. Cowles, R-Morgan/Hampshire.

The new cupola, or clock tower, is similar to the old cupola, former Morgan County Commissioner Glen R. Stotler said.

"I think it's a spectacular day. It's part of the symbol of the courthouse, and it has been and will continue to be the cornerstone of the community," Stotler said.

Marty Rinehart, project superintendent for Milestone Construction Services, the building company, said the cupola weighs 3,500 pounds and is 13 feet wide.

"It fits like a glove. It fits perfectly," he said after the cupola was in place.

Rinehart said he arrived about 5:30 a.m. Wednesday to get the site ready. The cupola arrived before 7 a.m. and the crane showed up about 45 minutes later.

"It took a lot of planning to get this part of the project together," Rinehart said. "It's rewarding to finally get to this point."

He said a courthouse cupola is very meaningful and a part of history to the town, "and I'm a part of rebuilding its history. I feel honored to be part of it," Rinehart said.

Joe Lillard, a local shop owner, said even after it was gone, he still looked for the clock tower to see what time it was.

"This is quite a day," he said.

"It's another hallmark in the life of the new Morgan County Courthouse. The public was insistent on having the clock replaced ...," Town of Bath Mayor Susan J. Webster said.

"So many times, I looked for the clock. I feel like an old friend has been brought back to the county," Commissioner Stacy A. Dugan said.

"It's a very historic day," Commissioner Thomas R. Swaim said. "Everyone has been waiting for this."

Swaim said the next step in the 45,000-square-foot courthouse is the installation of windows.

The building is to be ready April 4, 2010, officials have said.

He said he was glad the decision was made to rebuild on its original site.

"It belongs here," Swaim said.

He said he wanted to commend the Town of Bath for "bending over backwards" to accommodate the courthouse construction.

Rinehart said the electric clock is not wired yet and will display 12 o'clock.

"It'll be lunchtime all the time here," he said.

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