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Preston Commission approves contract for courthouse project

KINGWOOD — The Preston County Commission approved a grant application to the West Virginia Courthouse Improvement Authority requesting $100,000 at its regular meeting Tuesday.

“The total project costs are $151,500. We would request 100,000, which is the maximum amount, which means the remaining cost would be $51,500,” County Administrator Kathy Mace said.

The maximum amount the grant can provide is $100,000, and any amount requested requires a 20% match.

That $51,000 includes a $16,500 contract with Mills Group that the commission voted to accept earlier in the meeting. Mace told the commission Mills Group will provide architectural services, engineering, and bidding services for the resealing and reappointing work at the Preston County Courthouse.

“It’s important to note that you already spent, with the commitment to do your investigation on the capstone over on the south side, we’re at over 70. So, I think that the county has shown that they’re vested in this project, not only by spending that money and also committing to the 51.5,” Mace said.

A previous repair project to the courthouse on the west side due to falling stones was about $55,000, Mace said at a previous meeting.

The Preston County Courthouse is unique as far as courthouses within the state, said Michael Mills, managing principal of Mills Group. It has a sandstone veneer ranging from three-to-five inches in thickness with only the stone, doors and windows outside. In between that and the interior is masonry and mortar.

The courthouse was finished in 1934. Mills said that was during the time of the Civilian Conservation Corps and it’s likely the sandstone is from West Virginia, if not Preston County itself.

Mills Group will inspect what’s known as the envelope, or skin, of the building. That means there will be a detailed survey of the sandstone looking for cracks, Mills said. The mortar joints will be checked for deterioration or missing joints, and the caulking around the doors and windows will be checked. Mills said he hopes the stones do not need to be repaired or replaced.

However, sandstone is porous and fragile and especially in the climate of Preston County, it can be vulnerable to the freeze-and-thaw cycle, which is what created the public safety issue on the west side, Mills said.

Following the survey, Mills said Mills Group will draw up the construction documents so the county can bid the project out. Mills Group will then supervise the project.

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