POMEROY — Maintaining an almost 200-year-old property can be costly, and members of the Chester Shade Historical Association came before the Meigs County Commissioners on Thursday to ask for additional help with expenses associated with the county’s first courthouse.
Chester was the site of the first Meigs County Courthouse. The building was completed in 1823 , and it was there the first trial in the county took place. It remained the county seat until 1841, when a new courthouse was build in Pomeroy.
Between 1869 and 1919, it was used as the meeting site for the Grand Army of the Republic and other area groups.
In 1926, the former courthouse was used as a community center, and necessary repairs were made by the Return Jonathan Meigs Daughters of the American Revolution.
Again in need of repair, the DAR provided funding from 1946 to 1951, with an estate gift left by Mary Bennett.
The interior of the courthouse was remodeled in 1959 with funds provided by the Chester Grange. The grange then began conducting their meetings on the site.
In 1976, the Return Jonathan Meigs DAR Chapter arranged to have the building placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The chapter sponsored extensive restorations in 1995 with funding from an Appalachian grant.
The courthouse hosts an annual geneology fair, Chester Shade Days and provides tours for visitors to the site.
CSHA members Dan Will (vice president), Dale Coleburn, Pat Holter and Jason Arnold presented commissioners with their annual budget of approximately $20,000. Will stated the largest amount of the budget was clerical.
According to the CSHA constitution, all donations and equipment belong to the county, which currently pays for some of the costs of the alarm system, insurance and clerical costs of the courthouse.
Commissioner Tim Ihle said he would entertain a motion to change the quarterly funding amount from $1,000 to $2,500 and a discussion of expenses followed.
CSHA is currently funding the fifth-grade Yesteryear project at $1.50 per student, and Chester Shade Days. Holter said that due to a limited budget, some programs have been cut, such as speakers in the schools.
Will advised the commissioners CSHA is working closely with the newly reorganized Meigs County Historical Society.
Holter asked commissioners about the possibility of paving an area on the commons to accommodate a Civil War Ball, as there has been discussion by the Morgan’s Raid committee of holding dances as part of the Morgan’s Raid activities in September.
Commissioner Mike Bartrum suggested the Park District may be able to provide assistance with paving and the commissioners would check into the possibility.
Ihle said the county is responsible for funding certain entities such as the Meigs County Historical Society because items are archived there. He went on to say that because the county also owns the property in Chester and would like to see it utilized, it is a good investment on the part of the commissioners to maintain the site for tourism, posterity and history.
He did caution that the county is not responsible for funding on the basis of justification by an organization of the need and asked if it was acceptable to make quarterly payments. Will said it would fine to do so and Ihle asked that the request be submitted on paper each quarter to the commissioners.
On a roll call vote, the motion to increase the quarterly funding was approved.
Contact Lorna Hart at 740-992-2155 Ext. 2551.
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