Court to get a new home soon

NEW CUMBERLAND – Hancock County commissioners are moving forward with plans to build a new home for Hancock County Magistrate Court.

On Thursday, commissioners accepted a $668,000 bid from Trushel Construction, of Weirton, to remodel the interior of the old New Cumberland Dollar General building on North Chester Street. Commissioners bought the building for $232,000 in February 2013 and want to adapt the retail space for reuse as a judicial complex.

Trushel’s was the lowest of five bids received for the project. The bids were opened June 11, with the highest being $1.017 million, said Robert Vidas, executive director of the county’s Office Technology and Communications.

The work will involve developing the large open interior space into a new home for Magistrate Court, which currently occupies a small building on Court Street.

Vidas said the project will significantly increase the square footage for Magistrate Court, whose busy docket is handled by three magistrates, three clerks and a handful of administrative staff. In West Virginia, magistrate courts hear mostly misdemeanor cases and traffic citations, while circuit courts hear felony and civil cases.

The new Magistrate Court will include a main courtroom and a small courtroom, three magistrate offices, office space for clerks and other staff, three holding cells, a jury room and three sets of restrooms, Vidas said. The building will be configured to keep prisoners segregated from the public, he said.

Commissioners recently received an $84,955 grant from the West Virginia Court Security Board to pay for the Magistrate Court’s security components, including video cameras, an X-machine and the holding cells. The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals is assisting with funding for a new judge’s bench.

Commissioners hope to work out a construction timetable with Trushel sometime in early July. Trushel’s last major project for the county was the building of the new secure entrance for the Hancock County Courthouse.

Also Thursday, commissioners:

* Agreed to change the location of precinct 22 to Weirton Heights Free Methodist Church and the location of precincts 23, 25 and 27 to the new Weirton Elementary School. The changes are necessitated by the recent closing, and planned demolition, of Weirton Heights, Liberty and Broadview Elementary schools.

* Reappointed William Miller to the Hancock County Parks and Recreation Board, effective July 1, and agreed to accept nominations for two park board seats that will become vacant on June 30.

* Put three requests for funding on the special projects list: Greater Weirton Senior Center ($15,000), Hancock County Senior Services ($15,000) and the New Cumberland Riverfest Committee.

* Appointed Lois Carpini to the Hancock County Museum Commission to replace Shirley Richards, who resigned May 31.

* Suspended the county’s Tuition Reimbursement Plan in the employee manual until the policy can be reviewed.

* Heard a report from Hancock County Museum Commission Treasurer Bob McNeil on recent improvements to the museum, 1008 Ridge Ave.