U.S. to close federal courtroom in Parkersburg

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. -- A federal courtroom in Parkersburg is closing. The courtroom occupies one floor in the building. U.S. District Judge Robert Chambers in Huntington said Monday the U.S. General Services Administration advised the court of its intentions to close the courthouse.Chambers said the GSA determined the building needs extensive repairs and alterations and that there are multiple vacancies with no serious prospects to fill them. The GSA also said a U.S. post office in the building plans to leave next August.The courtroom's last day of business is Friday. Court cases involving Wirt and Wood counties will be heard by the federal court's Charleston division.
"The court regrets the loss of its courtroom at Parkersburg, but it cannot justify the expense of approximately $1 million to $1.5 million to taxpayers for build-out costs of similar space in another location," Chambers said. "In addition to the day-to-day operational costs, the annual rent for the entire court space at Parkersburg is $132,888.48 for 11,917 square feet of space."Media outlets have reported that cases had been heard occasionally in the Parkersburg courtroom, but Chambers said no full-time judge or magistrate has been stationed there since 1992. He said the building didn't lend itself to modern-day trials using computer technology.Chambers said the only employee still working at the federal courtroom plans to retire. Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell said a federal bankruptcy judge has been working out of a city courtroom.Newell said the city was informed two years ago that the courthouse had been marked for closure. Newell said he'd like a private business to take over the building.
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