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Morgan County celebrates new courthouse

September 25, 2010|By TRISH RUDDER
  • 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Gina M. Groh introduces Supervisory Judge John C. Yoder, seated at right, during the new courthouse grand opening ceremony Saturday. Morgan County Commission President Brenda J. Hutchinson is seated at left. The ceremony was held at the courthouse's front entrance.
By Trish Rudder,

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. -- The new Morgan County Courthouse was celebrated Saturday with music, food and sunny weather, and also some memories of Aug. 8, 2006, the day the old courthouse was destroyed by fire.

Morgan County Commission President Brenda J. Hutchinson said she remembers the county worked closely that day to save its history.

"With foresight and citizens, we were able to save all the county records," she said.

"This courthouse is about the people of Morgan County today," but it's also for future generations who will walk through the doors, Hutchinson said.

About 250 people attended the ceremony at the courthouse entrance on Washington and Fairfax streets.

Tents and tables were set up on Fairfax Street for people to eat free pulled pork sandwiches served by local caterer, Bob's Big Beef. Owner Bob Ford is a former county commissioner.

Free bottles of water with the courthouse picture and dedication date were given as mementos.

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Commisioner Thomas R. Swaim said so many people helped on the day of the fire that the list of those to thank was "in the hundreds." He had to pause during his speechwhen he began to cry.

State Sen. Walt Helmick, D-Pocahontas, said he was on his way to a funeral when he attempted to drive into Berkeley Springs on his way to Martinsburg, but police told him U.S. 522 was blocked because of the courthouse fire.

Helmick, who chairs the finance committee, said he worked with state and county officials to help secure the 1 percent loan to help build the new courthouse.

Another guest speaker, 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Gina M. Groh, said the people who work inside the courthouse make Morgan County shine.

"The courthouse building is only the skin of the institution. It's the people who do the job inside," she said.

She mentioned Morgan County Circuit Clerk Kim Jackson, former Sheriff Ronnie McIntire, Schools Superintendent David Banks and the Board of Education as those who helped get her temporary courtroom ready in the Board of Education offices for the January 2007 grand jury term.

"There was good coordination with all the Board of Education and the Circuit Court," Groh said. "They were part of the team; they all made it easy," Groh said.

And they continued to help make her comfortable while the new courthouse was being built, she said.

Former Commission president Glen R. Stotler received a standing ovation from the crowd.

"Out of the ashes came this building," he said. "It's a great building. Be proud of it, and it will serve you," Stotler said.

"This courthouse belongs to you, the citizens of Morgan County," Commissioner Stacy A. Dugan said. "This is where your county government works for you every day," she said.

Artist Kenneth Eugene Peters, Hutchinson's brother, presented an oil painting of the old courthouse that will hang in the new building, Hutchinson said.

"I love the new building inside and out. They did a remarkable job, and they made this a memorable day," resident Mary Lou Trump said.

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