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Crews to add new steeple to Wood County Courthouse today

The Wood County Courthouse as it has appeared since the early 1950s. The new steeple, which will cap the top of the bell tower, will be lifted into place and installed today. (Photo by Brett Dunlap)

PARKERSBURG — The new steeple for the Wood County Courthouse is expected to be lifted into place today.

Crews spent Monday getting the site ready outside the courthouse, assembling a crane that will be used to lift the 7,000-pound structure into place this afternoon. Pieces of the crane were brought in on three semi-trailers.

Crews started the prep work Monday afternoon after the steeple arrived on site. More prep will be done this morning before the tower is lifted into place.

“It is the big day,” Commission President Blair Couch said.

Officials were unsure when the new steeple will be lifted into place. Some estimates have it mid-to-late morning or mid-to-late afternoon, depending on how all the preparation goes.

Preparations were made Monday to place the new bell tower atop the Wood County Courthouse today. (Photo by Brett Dunlap)

Crews have been working for the last couple of months on renovations to the tower and preparing it to receive the new steeple-like crown on top. The building had something similar for a number of years prior to 1953 when it was removed. The renovation work has also included roof repairs, a climbing stairwell reconstruction up to the tower and other work associated with restoring the bell tower.

County Administrator Marty Seufer said there will be traffic changes around the courthouse, especially in front of the fountain. The street will be closed around the courthouse so crews will have room to work.

“There won’t be any traffic around the courthouse, because there will be a really big crane out there,” he said. “There will be some assembly down on the fountain-side of the courthouse. They will be moving pieces up in the morning to be able to anchor it down.”

After that the steeple is expected to be lifted into place and secured.

“It will be finished (today),” Seufer said.

Crews worked Monday on site preparations outside the Wood County Courthouse assembling a crane which will lift the new 7,000-pound steeple on top of the bell tower where crews will install and secure it. (Photo by Brett Dunlap)

The people who built the steeple, Campbellsville Industries – nicknamed “The Steeple People”– of Campbellsville, Ky. will be the ones supervising the lift and securing the steeple to the tower, officials said.

The weather appears it will be clear with no wind, according to weather reports.

“It looks like it will be a good day,” Seufer said.

When the steeple is lifted into place, people in offices on the front side of the building will be moved to the other side of the building.

“We are going to evacuate that side of the courthouse,” Seufer said adding he expected it would take a couple hours or so to get the steeple lifted into place and secured.

“We will not let anyone on the fountain side of the building while that thing is being lifted up and put on,” Seufer said.

He said he believes the WVU Extension Office and the Wood County Assessor’s Office might see some interruption in business during that process. Personnel can move to other parts of the building to work.

The courthouse will be open throughout the day with people able to access the building from the Market Street side and the handicap entrance on the side of the building facing the prosecutor’s office.

The tower itself is around 140 feet high.

The county will be doing a live video feed from a top the Shaver Judicial Annex building throughout the day.

Seufer said from that vantage, viewers should get a good view of crews lifting the steeple into place.

“We went over the other day and tried it,” he said. “It will be a great shot.”

People will be able to go to the county’s website at woodcountywv.com where there will be a link that will take viewers to a YouTube page where they can watch it.

“It is exciting,” Seufer said. “This will be the last time you can take a picture of the courthouse without the roof (steeple) in our lifetime.

“It is pretty neat. From what we are being told and by our estimation this should make us the tallest courthouse in the state of West Virginia. It will be 154 feet up to the top.”

Contact Brett Dunlap at bdunlap@newsandsentinel.com

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