Courthouse ceremony: Plans made for courthouse rededication

Former elected officials and representatives from throughout Auglaize County are to lead a courthouse rededication ceremony this fall.
Scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m. Sept. 16, the ceremony is open to everyone and is to be followed by an open house throughout that Sunday afternoon. A rain date of Sunday, Sept. 23, also has been set.
While personnel won’t officially be moved back into county offices in the courthouse by the date of the open house, the Auglaize County commissioners said they debated what to do, but ultimately wanted to share the building with residents as soon as possible.
“We bounced back and forth about whether we wanted all the offices moved back in, but as the date for that kept getting pushed back, we wanted to proceed with this,” Commissioner Doug Spencer said.
He said all they anticipate would be missing from the offices would be the papers county employees work with every day.
“Residents of the county aren’t there to look at that,” Spencer said. “They are there to look at the renovations, the painting, the murals.”
Earlier this month, the commissioners again pushed back the date when county offices would move back into the renovated courthouse. The first group would begin moving back in the day after the open house with other offices scheduled to move back into the courthouse through the week of Oct. 8.
Spencer noted even the latest schedule is subject to change, but the commissioners want to open the building up to county residents.
County officials have been asked to be on hand during the open house to help with questions and provide information.
“Absolutely people are anxious to see it,” Spencer said. “We didn’t want to delay that any longer, after 18 months of construction and renovations, they are ready to see their courthouse.”
Commissioner Don Regula said he is asked a couple times each day when the courthouse will be open and the commissioners are excited to show it to the public.
“It’s certainly been a team effort to get it done,” Regula said. “Everyone has gone overboard to help.”
Total renovation costs are expected to come in at approximately $8.6 million, the total estimated at the beginning of the project, commissioners said.
During the ceremony, former elected officials are to address the crowd as are ministers from throughout the county. Special musical selections include “Beautiful Ohio,” “The County of Auglaize,” and “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
There is to be a color guard and ushers with each community in the county represented, said Rachel Barber, of the Auglaize County Historical Society, as she discussed the program.
Contents of a time capsule to be placed underneath the Lady Justice statue in the courthouse are to be shared, as are displays of how different updated systems in the building work and a slide show of progress throughout the project.
Light refreshments are to be served and swing music played by a band for two hours after the end of the ceremony. Representatives from the Auglaize County Historical Society are to be available to provide information during tours of the courthouse, which was built in 1894.
Organizers of the rededication are still in the planning stages as they determine the number of volunteers they may need to make the event happen and whether portions of the street can be closed to accommodate tents for the ceremony. Speakers for the event are invited to tour the courthouse prior to the ceremony to have first hand knowledge of work that has been done.
Plans also are being considered to shuttle attendees to and from the courthouse by bus to alleviate parking concerns.
In addition to former county officials, who are to receive special recognition during the rededication, state government officials also have personally invited to attend.
The Wapakoneta Area Chamber of Commerce plans to publish a commemorative booklet full of pictures and information on the courthouse to be distributed for the rededication.