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Commissioners Proceed With Renovations

By Staff | Oct 14, 2020

Currently under construction are renovations to the former Shiben Buildings now owned by the county

Downtown New Martinsville will have a new look once the Renovations to the former Shiben Buildings are complete. The Shiben estate turned the keys over to the county commissioners earlier this year to save the county much expense in their efforts to construct better and much needed office space. Among those benefitting from the new space will be the Wetzel County Magistrate offices.

In November of 2018 the Wetzel County Commission received three of the Shiben Estate buildings from Shiben Estates, Inc. The families wished to give three of the buildings to the commission, which will be used for additional storage and possible office space. At that time Johnny Joe Mensore speaking on behalf of the Shiben estate, stated it was the most exciting day he’s had in his lifetime. He said when the commission had previously told him it was going to cost $8 million dollars to construct a new building, he was happy get the Shiben family together to see if they could help save the county money. He said he is thrilled the family decided to do this.

At the time the buildings were gifted to the connission, John Shiben stated he wanted like to thank everyone who took part in the transition of the building – the Wetzel County commission, the City of New Martinsville, and his cousin John Mensore, who spearheaded and moved the process along. John stated his grandfather, Joseph Shiben, was an immigrant who came to America in 1895 and worked for farmers in the area. He had no money, could not speak English ,and could not write. In the span of approximately 30 years, Joseph Shiben built one of the buildings that is being donated, brick by brick, with nothing but hard work and dedication. Notably, stories state that Joseph sold things from a backpack, acquired enough money to buy a cart and eventually had a store that was called Shiben Dry Goods. The whole family worked there.

While the buildings were great for downtown since their beginning and served the community well during those years, however, they will now take on a different look and serve the area in a different capacity, the providing Wetzel County with storage and office space for county offices that have been struggling to stay with the times. Keeping in line with ADA laws and providing residents with modern facilities has been a long time concern for county commissioners.

When renovations to these buildings are complete they will be modern in look and give downtown New Martinsville a new appeal which could attract other enities to the area. The $3 million dollar price tag for the project is expected to save the county nearly $5 million dollars, in new construction costs. Caliper Contracting Services is the General Contractor on the project, work has started on the renovations which for include a complete overhaul to bring them up to date with modern times. The projected completion date is expected to be sometime in late 2021.