WELLSBURG - The courtroom at the Brooke County Courthouse is receiving a facelift aimed at improving not only its appearance but also addressing lighting, heating and acoustic issues there.
Earlier this month Brooke County Commissioners accepted a bid of $67,800 from Lombardi Development of Follansbee to upgrade the courtroom's heating, ventilation and air conditioning and lighting, install a tiled ceiling about 3 feet below the current one to improve the room's acoustics, and refurbish its benches.
The county commission has received an $80,000 state Courthouse Facilities Improvement Grant and a $32,000 federal Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant for the project.
Commissioners Bernie Kazienko and Norma Tarr on March 15 approved a change order, in the amount of $8,992, to add bulkheads with recessed lighting at the top of the courtroom's walls.
Commissioner Marty Bartz opposed the move, who said he would like to see the current ceiling copper crown moulding replicated and questioned whether it would be possible to do that with the bulkheads.
He also suggested the commission seek the opinion of members of the Brooke County Bar Association, which had urged the commission to improve conditions in the courtroom.
Kazienko said while there was interest in preserving the crown moulding, much of it is deteriorating. Jason Nuzum, a representative of Lombardi Development, estimated it would cost about $8,000 for new moulding.
Crews with Lombardi Development have begun installing drywall to three of the courtroom's four walls and in the jury room, which also will have a lower ceiling and new carpet.
Drywall sheets were added to the fourth, northernmost wall, a few years ago after a piece of moulding and debris fell from the ceiling during a hearing.
Engineers with McKinley and Associates of Wheeling said the falling debris was inadvertently spurred by repairs to the building's roof.
Ordered by the commission, the repairs were part of a $106,000 project aimed at addressing leaks that caused several areas of the courtroom to be cracked and stained.
In other business, the commission:
Noted the recent deaths of Keith Donley, a member for many years of the Brooke County school board and field representative of the state Treasurer's Office; and Ellen Carte, an employee for many years of the Brooke County Clerk's office who, with her husband Paul, owned the Carte Funeral Home, which later became Reasner Funeral Home.
Approved a resolution supporting the Brooke County Public Service District's application for a $1.3 million Small Cities Block Grant to extend sewer lines to homes on Eldersville Road east of Mahan Lane, the community of Louise and other areas.
At Bartz' request, the resolution was reworded to indicate specifically that homes between Mahan and Peacock lanes would be included.
He'd asked for the revision after Esther Chalfont and other residents of that area complained to the commission they have been left out of the project's current first phase though they had petitioned local and federal officials for it.
Brooke County PSD officials have said an area of Eldersville Road west of Mahan Lane was given preference because it was more cost-feasible and some homes east of Mahan Lane will be included if there's enough money left from the first phase.
Brooke County Sheriff's Deputy Kevin Heck recommended the commission hire Frontier Communications to provide local and long distance telephone service for the county and said he'd arrange for the company to present a contract to the commission.
Heck was asked to look into other phone providers after the county suffered from recurring lapses in service from its present provider. The lapses didn't involve the county's emergency 911 center, which has been served by Frontier and Verizon before that company was taken over by Frontier.
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