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Capitol gets dressed to impress

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Shortly after 1 p.m. Monday, Earl Ray Tomblin will take the oath of office to begin his second term as West Virginia's governor.

But before that can happen, workers have to hang some bunting. And banners. They have to set up folding chairs and bleachers. If the forecast calls for rain, they will place extra rugs near all the Capitol entryways to make sure no one falls on the marble floors.

On Thursday, workers blasted the Capitol's south steps with a pressure washer. They also are checking to make sure there are no dangerous cracks or crevices in those steps. The last thing they want is a member of the Board of Public Works taking a spill in front of hundreds of people.

"This is a very large-scale public event, and anytime you have that, there are so many elements that fall into play," Tomblin spokeswoman Amy Shuler-Goodwin said.

Goodwin said Capitol staff would work through the weekend to make sure all debris on the grounds is cleared. Before the crowds start gathering Monday morning, they will make sure all the facilities are accessible, that restrooms are unlocked and fully stocked.

Some handicap-accessible entrances to the Capitol will be blocked off, so workers will have to post signs directing people to alternate routes.

Goodwin said the Capitol's General Services department also will make sure enough paramedics are on hand during the inauguration, just in case. With events of this size, you have to be ready for the unexpected.

"You never know. There have been many inaugural days where it was sunny and warm. It may be freezing and raining," she said.

Workers will set up benches to accommodate more than 400 people, including members of the West Virginia National Guard, State Police and musical groups featured in the inauguration ceremony.

About 150 seats will be set up for officials, their families and friends. Seating for the public will be available on the plaza beneath the south steps.

This year's ceremony presents a unique problem. Usually, inauguration days fall on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a federal holiday. That means most state employees don't report to work on inauguration day, and that helps with traffic control.

This year, the inauguration is a week before Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Goodwin said to limit the flow of people through the area, the state is preparing to let some employees work outside the Capitol Complex on Monday. Some will just work from home.

"We have to make sure that safety and security is a priority," Goodwin said.

In addition to Tomblin, other members of the Board of Public Works, including newly elected Agriculture Commissioner Walt Helmick and incoming Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, will be sworn in at Monday's ceremony.

Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, state Treasurer John Perdue and state Auditor Glen Gainer also will take oaths for new terms.

A short reception will follow at the Culture Center, featuring live music and refreshments. Goodwin said the reception provides an opportunity for members of the public to meet their elected officials.

The theme of this year's inauguration is "West Virginia First." Goodwin said Tomblin ran through his speech on Wednesday and Thursday.

Tom Heywood will serve as master of ceremonies, and West Virginia National Guard Adjutant General James Hoyer will lead the Pledge of Allegiance.

The Rev. Matthew Watts of Grace Baptist Church in Charleston will deliver the invocation, The Rev. George Kostas of the Trinity Episcopal Church in Logan will give the inaugural prayer, and the Rev. Doug Craven of First Presbyterian Church in Logan will deliver the benediction.

The West Virginia National Guard's 249th Army Band, based in Morgantown, will perform the national anthem and other musical pieces throughout the ceremony.

The Appalachian Children's Chorus will perform "My Home Among the Hills" before being joined by the Martin Luther King Jr. Male Chorus to sing "Total Praise."

Contact writer Zack Harold at 304-348-7939 or Follow him at



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