Study of West Virginia Courthouses’ Needs Planned
All 55 county courthouses in West Virginia will be studied in the coming months to help local counties identify improvement priorities.
The West Virginia Courthouse Facilities Improvement Authority has awarded a $600,000 contract to Silling Associates of Charleston to conduct the study.
The study will analyze each courthouse’s condition and needs, make recommendations and provide cost estimates.
Silling is asking the counties for insurance and fire marshal reports, blueprints, lists of past projects completed or in the process and a list of improvements needed.
“It’s going to be beneficial to counties in a couple ways. It will save some costs in employing an engineering/architectural firm and get a better price for 55 counties rather than one,“ said Upshur County Administrator Willie Parker. “It will allow counties a clear picture to prioritize projects. They may find something we may be overlooking.“
Annexes will not be included in the project, which is expected to be completed by August 2013.
“It is predominantly due to lack of available monies to fund the entire project. We will be evaluating about 2 million square feet of buildings and traveling to every county in the state,“ said Mike Moore, director of business development for Silling. “The largest priority has been the main courthouses. They are older—in greater disrepair. Counties have had a hard time putting funds together to keep up the historic structures.“
Funding for the project comes from fines, concealed weapon permits and other fees collected through each courthouse.
The fees also fund improvement grants that the authority awards annually to counties.
“We are going to pay for the project over the course of two fiscal years,“ said Melissa Garretson, executive director of the authority. “We don’t know if fees will remain constant. Beginning Jan. 1, 2013, we will start paying for it. I expect about $1.6 million in grants awarded each year for two years to be able to pay for this project.“
Courthouse inspections are scheduled in Harrison and Taylor counties in September.