HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — The condition of Cabell County’s courthouse bell tower was much worse than many imagined, and the county is now faced with paying considerably more for restoring it, officials said Thursday.
A contractor told county commissioners the ongoing renovation revealed major damage from a lightning strike, collapsed areas of its outer roof and significant deterioration of steel legs constructed to hold the structure atop the courthouse.
The current project costs ranges from $250,000 to $400,000 depending upon the degree of additional work commissioners elect to complete. Angelina Stone and Marble of St. Clairsville, Ohio, near Weirton, West Virginia, is doing the restoration, and had submitted a bid earlier with a base cost of $246,725.
“It probably would have cost us three times that (if) it blew off and hurt someone,” said Tim Keaton, the commission’s grant and permits administrator. “The legs on it were completely deteriorated. There was only the copper flashing underneath of it that was holding it on top of the courthouse.”
County Manager Chris Tatum described the structure as volatile, telling commissioners contractors believed that a strong headwind or severe storm could have knocked it off.
It means county commissioners are faced with needing to approve more money to complete the project, as well as shift money already designated for specific aspects of its completion to repair newly revealed damage.
Tatum estimates restoration of the existing bell tower could cost $330,000. He said constructing a entirely new structure would take many additional weeks and run upward of $400,000…