County, Town Agree on Government Center Budget and Artwork

Clarke County’s Joint Building Committee (JBC) met last week to finalize the cost split between the county and the town for running the new Joint Government Center. Committee members also reviewed plans for adding artwork to public areas of the building that will simultaneously beautify interior walls while honoring the heritage and beauty of Clarke County and the Town of Berryville.

Clarke County Supervisor David Weiss and designer Phyllis Nee discuss plans for Joint Government Center artwork - Photo Edward Leonard

“It’s been literally a year today since I began meeting with the county on this project” said Millwood designer Phyllis Nee who has been selected to advise and guide officials on selection and placement of the building’s decorative enhancements. “Since then I’ve measured every wall in the building, taken pictures of each floor and have drawn each area to scale.”

Last December Nee presented the committee, comprised by Clarke County Supervisor David Weiss (Buckmarsh), Berryville Town Councilman Allen Kitselman (Ward Two), Berryville Town Manager Keith Dalton and chaired by Clarke County Administrator David Ash, with a selection of 47 photographs and maps from which the final artwork will be chosen from.

Nee suggested to the JBC committee that large maps of the county and town surrounded by sepia-toned photographs depicting life in Clarke County and Berryville from ages past will create an interesting and engaging display for Government Center visitors.

“I think that it will be attractive to have a large, centered display on the first floor” Nee told the committee.

During the discussion the committee considered a range of details associated with implementing their soon-to-be highly visible decisions including issues like picture frame selection, photo matting and whether or not to add captions to the photographs once the images have been mounted on the wall.

“To me it will be much more interesting and meaningful if the historic photos have captions” said Supervisor Weiss.

During the meeting Clarke County’s problematic computer infrastructure caused the artwork review to grind to a halt as the committee struggled to review Nee’s proposed images on two ten-year-old memory-challenged laptop computers used for presentations in the main meeting room. Nearly 30-minutes of struggle passed before gaining access to the digital images. Once technical issues were solved, JBC committee members watched as photos from Clarke County’s past appeared on the meeting room display screens.

(l-r) Berryville Councilman Allen Kitselman, Phyllis Nee and Clarke Supervisor David Weiss review photos of Clarke County - Photo Edward Leonard

Nee showed the committee many images for potential selection including the Berryville Train Station, Coiner’s Department Store, Harry Hardesty’s Livery Stable, Simpson’s Department Store (Boyce), and the old mill and tollgate (Millwwood). Additional images of apple harvesting, Old Chapel, White Post, Pine Grove as well as African American life in Clarke County are also under consideration.

While the committee’s current consideration includes only analog artwork, the possibility of incorporating wall mounted digital flat panel display screens was briefly considered but deferred due to concerns about costs.

In other business the committee informally agreed to accept an operating cost sharing agreement developed by Clarke County Joint Administrative Services director Tom Judge.

Judge’s budget estimates the annual cost for running the Joint Government at $172,236. Under Judge’s proposal, Clarke County will cover $107,388 while Berryville will contribute $64,948. Of the budget costs, salary for a shared receptionist ($40K), utilities ($46K), phones and phone service ($32K) and cleaning services ($35K) contribute the majority of expenses.

During the meeting Judge and Dalton agreed that the town would pay half of its cost share on July 1st and the remaining amount on January 1st.

“This budget estimate seems reasonable for us to move forward on” said Dalton.


  1. J P Marat says:

    $40,000 for a receptionist? I want that gig!