Most every citizen in Tucker County is aware of the construction that has been going on around the Courthouse over the past couple of years. The much awaited completion of the annex was celebrated last week with countless dignitaries, county politicians, employees, and the citizenry at large.
The annex is a much needed addition to the original courthouse building which is 115 years old. Commissioner Lowell Moore said, “It came time to expand and improve. The new annex has been designed not to take away but to enhance the old courthouse building.”
The day’s festivities opened with prayer, the color guard, and the singing of the national anthem. The event was held in the parking garage in the bottom of the annex and although pretty chilly in temperature many people braved the cold to get to see inside the new building.
Sherry Simmons, County Clerk, gave a heart-felt tribute to the old court house building likening her to a “grand, old lady” and that she (the courthouse) gave birth to a beautiful daughter. She also recognized the cadets at the Rubenstein Center for their kind hearts and strong arms.
The idea of an annex started years ago and the County Commission has been putting money away for it for years. Many County Commissioners have turned surplus funds from their budgets back to the county, that, along with the coal severance tax (mainly from Metikki) the commission has been able to already pay for well over half of the 5.7 million dollars the project has cost. They will only have to finance 2.2 million dollars or less. The construction took two years and the final walk through is expected by next month.
County Commissioner Mike Rosenau explained the financial need for the annex. “The county was renting space for the Magistrate’s Offices and Court, the Probation Office, and the Sheriff’s Office. We were spending $1,550 in rent alone each month. Now, since all the floor plans for the annex were approved by the State Supreme Court, they use our space and rent from us at $1,558 a month. So, from what we’re saving on rent and what the State Supreme Court is paying us in rent, we are realizing an over three thousand dollar a month savings. Our plan is to continually pay the loan down and get it paid off as quickly as possible.
The annex will house: County Clerk, Circuit Clerk and Court, Magistrate Offices and Court, Family Court , Probation, County Commission, and Prosecuting Attorney. Remaining in the old courthouse building are: the Assessor’s Office, the County Mapper, the Sheriff’s Department, and the Extension Service. The large old court-room will still house any large cases or large meetings and the commission would like to eventually see it restored to its former glory.
One of the day’s speakers, County Commissioner Diane Hinkle, touted the art-work that hangs in the new annex by local artists and/or depicting local scenes. “This explains why Tucker County is deserving of its designation as a state cultural district.”
The common theme amongst all the commissioners and dignitaries was pride in the fact that the annex is very handicapped accessible. Commissioner Rosenau summed it up best.
“All citizens now, regardless of physical impediments, can access the annex and courthouse.”
A proclamation from Governor Tomblin read: “The new annex is a great source of pride for Tucker County, and sure to be a huge advantage to the people of Tucker County.”
If the new annex serves us as well as “the grand old lady” has, then Tucker County will be well-served indeed.