MADISON — Due to an error in the application process, Boone Co. will lose out on grant funding that would have completed a project related to improvements to the Boone County Courthouse.
Approval of $1.68 million in grants for courthouse repairs and renovations around the state of West Virginia included the improvements in Boone County.
Approved by the West Virginia Courthouse Facilities Improvement Authority, the funding comes from fees for concealed weapons permits, marriage licenses, processing criminal bonds, felony cases and filing deeds.
Via a 20 percent match, Boone County received much-needed concrete work related to sidewalks and replacement of the original railing that once adorned the grounds of the courthouse.
According to Boone County Community & Economic Development Corporation Director Kris Mitchell, the problem came via the decision to combine security frames for windows with other elements like new steps for the courthouse grounds. Mitchell said that combining requests in one grant application is not allowed and it was something she communicated before she was told to submit them. It is only permitted if there is a related way to tie them in together.
Categories to apply for included safety, accessibility, structural improvements, roofing, electrical, exterior improvements, mechanical, windows, doors and construction among others.
"I was told to apply for the steps in front of the courthouse," she said. "Limestone steps and walls on the south side of the courthouse and security frames for the windows at the vault room (were included)."
Mitchell stated in a phone interview that she received a letter regarding the denial.
"They should have been separate applications," she said. "I did as I was told to do."
When asked who told her to combine the items on the application, Mitchell responded, "Pam White."
White is the county administrator. She responded to Mitchell's statement via telephone, along with Boone County Maintenance Director Kerry Dickens through a conference call.
"What Pam instructed us to do was handle the grants on our own and apply for things we need," Dickens said. "We did apply for the security bars on the windows and the steps. I was unaware we couldn't do it that way. Pam didn't instruct Kris to apply for the grants that way. I know for a fact she didn't."
White added, "When (retired administrator) Jim Gore was here he was in every grant meeting with me, when I took the office of administrator, I explained to them that they know what they're doing, Kerry gets all the information for the grants and I don't need to be in there because they know what they're doing. I have not, from the very beginning been involved with any of the grants."
Dickens said it was after the grants were denied that Mitchell told them that they could not apply by combining items.
"After we were turned down she told us," he said.
According to White, the county spent $194,977 and have been reimbursed for only $87,624 via approved grant money on the project, which included heated sidewalks and railing.
Historical records show that the total cost of the Boone County Courthouse was $208,441.15, with an actual "cost to taxpayers" of $186,395, along with an undocumented credit of $25,000. The total project, including architectural design, ran between the years of 1915 and 1921 when it was completed.
Reporter Phil Perry can be reached at email@example.com or call 304-307-2402.