Talks Continue on Proposed West Virginia Courthouse Annex

By Lisa Kopochinski

LEWISBURG, W.Va. — Discussions remain ongoing between Greenbrier County commissioners regarding funding options for a proposed courthouse annex in Lewisburg, W.Va.

Commissioner President Lowell Rose identified this project as one of his goals after winning the Republican Party’s nomination to run for a third time in office. He estimated that the project would cost $10 million, including renovations and upgrades to the existing building.

A preliminary design of the facility has been prepared by Sillings Architects. The annex, plus a sallyport, would increase the size of the county courthouse in Lewisburg by nearly 70 percent.

The existing courthouse contains 35,840 square feet, while the annex proposed in the preliminary design contains 22,340 square feet. The sallyport—which would be attached to the rear of the existing structure— would add an additional 1,900 square feet. The annex would have its own elevator and be attached to the northern end of the current courthouse.

If the project becomes a reality, only the first and second floor circuit courtrooms and the prosecuting attorney’s offices will retain their present functions. All other courthouse offices will be rearranged to provide occupants with more space, in addition to carving out suites for Family Court and Magistrate Court offices and courtrooms. This would result in all court functions being consolidated in a single building. At present, Greenbrier’s Magistrate and Family Courts occupy rented space half-a-block and two blocks away from the courthouse.

The Sheriff’s Law Enforcement offices will also be relocated from one basement to another, shifting out of the long-closed jailhouse — which would be razed to make way for the annex — into the lowest floor of the remodeled courthouse. This will place law enforcement offices directly next to a new collection of prisoner/detainee holding cells.

Also included in the proposed project is a secure elevator that would be added in the existing courthouse to transport prisoners from one floor near the holding cells, and the sallyport on the lowest level. This elevator would also provide controlled access to circuit and magistrate courtrooms on the first and second floors.

If the project proceeds as proposed, phase 1 will involve the demolition of old buildings (the jailhouse and a county-owned former residence which is just to the north of the courthouse) and construction of the annex. The annex will feature two full floors of offices and a partial basement designed to contain an early voting room, mechanical facilities and storage. Phase 1 is expected to be completed 12 months after demolition begins.

Phase 2 would involve a temporary shifting of several offices from the existing courthouse into the new annex, enabling renovation work to occur in the present structure. That phase is expected to take between six and eight months.

Phase 3—which is estimated to take four to six months to complete— will continue the shuffling of offices and personnel while the finishing touches are added to both sections of the building.