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Tyler Courthouse Poised For Repairs, Renovations

By Staff | Nov 19, 2015

The Tyler County Commission announced a bit of good news about the county’s courthouse.

During the Nov. 10 meeting, Commission President Eric Vincent said the county received up to a $20,000 state grant to assist paying for a a new fire alarm system for the courthouse. The county has to come up with a 20 percent match $4,000 to capture this grant that was awarded by the West Virginia Courthouse Facilities Improvement Authority.

Five times is the charm for Tyler County.

“We’ve been trying to get that grant for the past five years and now we finally got one,” said Charles Smith, vice president of the Commission. “It’s good to see we’re getting started with this project.”

Commissioner John Stender said the grant will help, but more repairs and renovations are necessary.

“The grant is a first step, but there are other things we need to do that the grant doesn’t cover,” he said. “Our courthouse is in dire need of repair.”

That’s not the only good news for the nineteenth century courthouse. The commission has made plans for painting and repairing the circuit courtroom at the beginning of next year. Circuit Court Clerk Candy Warner said the courtroom was last painted about 45 years ago. New carpet and curtains, plaster work are also included in the plans to spruce up the courtroom.

“The courtroom is in desperate need of repairs and some attention,” Warner said.

Sergeant Shannon Huffman, Tyler County Sheriff’s office, recalled that time when a piece of plaster fell from the ceiling onto a judge’s head.

Though Tyler County is the beneficiary of more severance tax money, repairs and renovations to a county courthouse are not going to be cheap. For example, Marion County’s courthouse needed extensive work that included repairs to a leaky roof, the windows and plaster. The price tag for the roof repairs alone to that courthouse’s iconic dome was more than $200,000.

Tyler County was founded in 1814 named for the John Tyler Sr., a prominent Virginia judge and father to President John Tyler. As such, the county’s chancery court court records date back to the days before typewriters and copiers. Warner showed some aging chancery and law records that date from the end of the Civil War in 1865 to the early 1970s when disco was king.

“We want to preserve these records because they are very old and fragile,” Warner said. “Once these records are gone, they are gone forever.”

The commission approved a plan for receiving bids for imaging these historic records for posterity.

“This is good news because that way, we can preserve these records for the people,” Warner said.

Warner said documents dating from the end of the Civil War were handwritten by the court’s clerks.

“The documents from then were written in that special type of script writing not like today when today when those same documents would be typed,” she said.

In other business, the commission is awaiting more information about the potential to provide salary increases to sheriff’s deputies. In October, Sergeant Shannon Huffman presented commissioners with a generalized step chart that seeks salary increases. His proposal requests an additional $30,000 from the commission to provide pay increases.

Citing U.S. Department of Labor statistics, Huffman noted during October’s commission meeting that Tyler County deputies earn an annual base salary of $33,966 while deputies statewide have an average base salary of $36,080. He said nationwide, the average salary for sheriff’s deputies is nearly $46,000.In other matters, the commission approved advertising for bids seeking demolition for a structure on land contiguous to the courthouse known as the Maupin Property. The commission was informed that that the house has minimal asbestos a product that could have dramatically increased demolition costs.