Lewis Judicial Annex dedicated

By John Wickline

Upshur Bureau Chief

Lewis County commissioners joined with other local and state leaders Tuesday to formally dedicate a new judicial annex in Weston, which they called a “celebration of more than 30 years of fiscal stewardship and management.”

The $8 million facility will house the sheriff’s department, probation offices, circuit court and its affiliated offices, family court and its affiliated offices, magistrate court and the prosecuting attorney’s office. Commission president Pat Boyle said the facility was completed using less than the anticipated funds.

“It’s a beautiful building which came in under budget, and it will accommodate all of the needs of the county,” he said.

Workers in the affected offices will begin moving supplies, furniture and equipment later this week in anticipation of having the building open Sept. 3.

“We will keep the essential items in those offices (as long as possible),” Boyle said. “But there will be a lot of employees working out of boxes until we get the building up and running.”

Boyle said the county commission and the Economic Development Authority will soon occupy the former Circuit Courtroom and those offices in the old courthouse, relocating from Garton Plaza in Weston. He said other offices will move into the Magistrate Court building and other vacated offices in the courthouse in the coming days.

“That will be a tremendous savings to the county,” Boyle said, noting that the annual rent for just two of the buildings utilized by county offices was about $38,000. “There will be not only a savings in rent, but also in utilities and security. We will be able to control those costs much better.”

Secretary of State Natalie Tennant honored the commissioners with a proclamation to commemorate the dedication, and she also brought a new West Virginia state flag for display in the building. She told the audience to think about what will be taking place in the new building.

“Think about the protection from the sheriff’s department and the justice,” she said. “This represents a facility that the people of West Virginia deserve.”

The construction of the building was funded in part by loans and grants from the U.S Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development funds.

The idea of a new county courthouse facility dates back to the 1970s, but commissioners delayed going through with the project until 2009.

“It was not until 2009 when the honorable Judge Thomas Keadle suggested the idea of a judicial annex as a solution to our problem,” Commissioner Agnes Queen said.

Queen also thanked the West Virginia Supreme Court for its help in bringing the project to reality.

“They have been true friends and advocates throughout all phases of this project,” she said.