BETHANY - Ongoing renovations to Bethany Town Hall have received a boost through a grant awarded for new gutters, soffit and exterior lighting.
The $2,750 grant was awarded by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and secured by state Sen. Jack Yost, D-Wellsburg, and may be used for other materials and supplies for the hall as funds permit, said Yost. He presented confirmation of the grant to Bethany Council prior to its regular meeting Wednesday.
Mayor Jay Eisenhauer thanked Yost for his support in that endeavor and others over the years.
GRANT AWARDED — State Sen. Jack Yost, D-Wellsburg, presented confirmation of $2,750 Governor’s Community Participation Grant for improvements to Bethany Town Hall prior to Bethany Council’s regular meeting Wednesday. On hand were, from left, Bethany Councilmen Patrick Sutherland, Ted Pauls and Gray Williamson; Yost; Mayor Jay Eisenhauer; and Town Recorder Cynthia Hoffman. -- Warren Scott
He said the grant will enable the town to further improve the building, which in addition to serving as council's meeting place and headquarters for the town's police department, is a rental hall for community events and private parties.
Eisenhauer said the success of the rental hall "has been a huge surprise. We've had rentals from people not only in Bethany but throughout Brooke County."
"It's brought more people to Bethany than we could have hoped for," he said.
The hall, which has seating capacity of 150, has been used for birthday parties, private Halloween and Christmas parties, events held by groups from Bethany College and other occasions.
Eisenhauer said he hopes to work with council to make it the site of community events such as free concerts and with county officials, to establish it as an emergency response center and shelter.
"I think that's something we really need to pursue here," he said, adding a generator and air conditioning would help to further that goal.
He noted the hall has a kitchen with a refrigerator, stove and microwave oven that could be used to feed residents brought to the shelter or emergency personnel.
Yost said he's pleased to assist with the project, adding the building has come a long way from a time in which it was being considered for demolition.
More than 40 years old, the building once served as the Bethany fire station. When the town's fire department built a new station on state Route 88, the town's sanitation and street crews used the garage for its vehicles and equipment, while Bethany Police and town council shared a small office. Handicap-accessible restrooms and a separate, cordoned area at the rear, for council chambers, were later established while council pursued upgrades to the building's plumbing and electrical systems.
With the help of the Brooke-Hancock-Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission, the town was awarded a $32,162 federal Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant to add insulation and drywall to the block walls and a lower ceiling and install new interior lights and energy-efficient doors.
The renovations occurred over several councils headed by four mayors: John Cole, Allen Smith, Sven deJong and Eisenhauer.