UNION, WV (WVNS)– In 2018, a leaking roof was discovered in the Monroe Courthouse in Union, a historic building.
Water had caused damage to the exterior and interior of the building, and a contractor later found mold throughout the facility, including the judge’s chambers.
Mold is a safety hazard and forced the closure of the building. Since 2018, Monroe court proceedings have been held in the Summers County courthouse or in the basement of the Union Fire Department. Despite county officials’ eagerness to repair the courthouse, certain regulations must be met for outside repairs on historic properties.
Officials said on Thursday, September 1, that those regulations slowed the progress of the repairs.
Monroe County spent about $400,000 on renovations, but the total cost of mold removal, repairs and making the historic building handicap accessible is estimated at four point five million dollars. The county asked the state for help, and the governor promised the funds in April, which allowed for a loan to jumpstart repairs. On Thursday, September 1, 2022, Governor Jim Justice visited Union with a $5 million grant.
“For three years we’ve had a nonfunctional courthouse in Monroe County, a county that often time gets forgotten,” Justice noted, after the presentation ceremony. “But I’m not going to forget it. We really owe a debt of thanks to a lot of people that put in a lot of licks. But at the end of the day, we got them $5 million to renovate a courthouse that’s been here since 1881.”
Although The West Virginia Courthouse Facilities Improvement Authority has provided funds in the past, lawmakers say these large grants are not the norm.
“It’s a unique situation in that this courtroom has been out of service for approaching four years and you really can’t have a functioning court without a functioning courthouse,” said Sen. Jack Woodrum, R-District 10. “That’s why it was important for the state to step in and get this courtroom back in service.”
County officials say the grant will also leave money to assist with rising construction costs.