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Wednesday, January 12th, 2022

A Century of Justice For All

Group to plan courthouse centennial

By William Kincaid
Photo by Paige Sutter/The Daily Standard

Corinthian columns grace the front of the Mercer County Courthouse. A committee met Tuesday to plan the building's 100th anniversary.

CELINA - Volunteers on Tuesday began laying out ideas for the Mercer County Courthouse's 100th anniversary in 2023.
The group agreed the celebration will be tailored toward families and contain splashes of red, white and blue to encourage patriotism.
The anniversary committee met for the first time in the Central Services Building to start planning for a seven-day celebration set for Sept. 11 to 17, 2023.
The committee, headed by county assistant prosecutor Erin Minor, so far consists of representatives from county government, businesses and other sectors.
The courthouse's 100th anniversary is a huge milestone for the county and a great opportunity to engage residents, she said.
"It's an opportunity for us to showcase our courthouse, show a little about the history of it, educate our community about the importance of the courthouse and functions that it serves and hopefully get some of our younger generation involved and excited about our justice system that exists here in the county."
Minor said some activities may be scattered throughout 2023 but the majority should take place during the week-long event to generate excitement and help market the event.
The county is rooted in faith, family and love of country, Minor said. With the scenes of constant unrest and lack of patriotism playing out against a national backdrop, organizers should strive for an event that also honors the nation, she said.
"I think we have a strong sense of patriotism in this county. We want to celebrate that," she noted.
Minor and committee vice-chair Kip Wright, who co-chaired the 75th courthouse anniversary, are toying with the slogan "Celebrating a Hundred Years of Justice for All," but are open to other suggestions.
"We want people from all walks of life, all ages, grandmas and grandpas to come with their grandkids, parents to bring their kids out," Minor said.
She spoke of making the weeklong celebration educational yet entertaining and fun, with balloons, music and other events.
Some of the ideas discussed Tuesday include a Monday night walk to commemorate 9-11, courthouse tours and coffee at the courthouse, where local vendors share their java and compete for best tasting coffee and in the process stimulate conversation between the public and county officials.
Organizers hope to engage schools and talked about hosting student art and photography displays in the courthouse and holding an essay contest.
Photo by Paige Sutter/The Daily Standard

A stained-glass dome caps the central atrium of the Mercer County Courthouse. A committee met Tuesday to plan the building's 100th anniversary.

The commitee has $10,000 in seed money allocated by county commissioners to be held at the Mercer County Civic Foundation. Volunteers, though, will still need to seek corporate sponsorships to pull off a celebration worthy of the building's 100th anniversary, some volunteers said.
The committee will meet again at noon Feb. 8 in the second floor conference room of the Central Services Building. The meeting is open to the public.
Photo by Paige Sutter/The Daily Standard

This ornate light in the Mercer County Courthouse is adorned with winged dragons.

The courthouse, financed with a $500,000 voter-approved bond issue, was described by The Daily Standard in September 1923 as a "veritable marble palace."
Forty-foot-tall Corinthian columns grace the four entrances of the gray Bedford limestone building in the heart of downtown Celina. Its open interior is enhanced with large bronze doors (now faded from oxidation) and marble floors, walls and staircases. Visitors can climb the ornate, winding staircase to view the rotunda below or look up to see the stained-glass dome.
The interior walls and floors consist of marble that had been pulled up in huge blocks from Vermont quarries and sliced into slabs.
Black marble accentuates the main entrances and the grand staircase rail. Wright has said a couple of hundred fossils can be seen in the black marble, among them a seashell and a baby shark tooth.
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CELINA - A new five-year, 0.55-mill county health district operating levy will move on to the Mercer County Board of Elections for certification on the May 3 primary election ballot.
CELINA - School board members on Monday night awarded superintendent Ken Schmiesing a one-year contract extension and accepted the resignation due to retirement of athletic director Jeff Fortkamp.
MINSTER - Board of education members welcomed Nick Rentz to the board during their organizational meeting on Monday.
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FORT RECOVERY - Sean Kahlig and Nick Wehrkamp were sworn in to serve on the board of education during the board's organizational meeting Monday night.
Newcomer Kahlig was elected to one of the two seats up for grabs in November's general election and incumbent Wehrkamp won the other seat.
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