Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

December 23, 2012

Sign of the times Notable changes ahead for Princeton


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— Area residents can expect to see a few changes for the city of Princeton in the weeks ahead. And with hope these changes will be a positive.

First up will be the new and long-planned welcome signs for the city. The new signs are ready to go, and the city is now simply awaiting final state approval before they can be erected at several major entrance points to the city.

The new signs provide a welcome-to-Princeton message to motorists, and declare the city as “The Heart of Mercer County.”

The new signs will replace older signs advertising Princeton as “The Gateway to Four Seasons Country.” The city held a slogan contest in 2011 to pick a new motto for the signs and city officials selected the phrase “The Heart of Mercer County” out of nearly 600 entries received for the slogan contest.

Designed by E.T. Boggess Architects, the new signs have been financed through a grant the city received from the Transportation Enhancement Program for the purpose of designing new city signage.

Mayor Patricia “Pat” Wilson said state approval is the last hurdle before the city can erect the new signage at several major entrance points.

“We have staked out where the signs will go,” Wilson said. “The state has to make sure the right-of-ways are all right before we can actually put up the signs. We have seen the artist’s rendering of the signs E.T. Boggess has done for us, and to my knowledge they have already manufactured the signs.”

Also on tap for the new year is the long-planned city hall relocation project to Mercer Street.

Wilson is hoping to see renovations begin soon at the former First Community Bank building on Mercer Street to allow for the relocation of city hall.

However, the architectural design for the renovation project must still be approved by the city’s building commission, and that vote isn’t expected to come until January. Once final approval is granted, bids can be opened for construction.

“There will be a lot of red tape from this project from the beginning to the end,” Wilson said. “We are hoping to get the plans approved as soon as possible and get going on this. I would like to see us be moved in and operational in the building by this time next year.”

The city hall relocation project has prompted some controversy. In fact, the actual vote in October 2011 to move the city hall from the current Princeton Municipal Building to the former bank building on Mercer Street left city council divided. Final approval came in a split 4-3 decision.

However, the ultimate goal of moving the city hall is to help with the ongoing revitalization of Mercer Street, and the downtown district. And it is hard to argue against downtown revitalization efforts.

We look forward to seeing the new city signage, and remain cautiously optimistic about the long-planned city hall relocation project.