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Somerset Inc. hosts first courthouse gala

Dylan JohnsonMay 26, 2019

They drive by it in town or see it from afar as it sits atop Somerset. As the central feature of Somerset County, the county courthouse is well-known by most local residents, but many have never seen the inside.

Unlike its usual purpose of hosting court hearings and county business, on Saturday the grand building served as the setting for Somerset Inc.’s first black tie gala.

The courthouse’s walls and floors are covered in marble, and carved wood railings lead to pillars adorned with brass light fixtures. It all leads up to the famous intricate dome above.

Somerset Inc. Executive Director Regina Coughenour said she couldn’t think of a better venue for thinking about the center of Somerset and its history, as well as its future.

Many local judges, officials and business-owners drank and ate horderves from local restaurants and farms. Coughenour said most of the menu was donated.

“I can’t think of a better way to showcase what Somerset has to offer — in the most historic and beautiful building in the county, and maybe the state and the country,” she said.

Coughenour said she would like to have the event every year, but that is up to the judges and the county commissioners.

Commissioner Gerald Walker said that he was amazed by the turnout to the event and thought it was great.

“We talked about maybe not having it every year, but maybe every few years as a more prestigious event,” he said. “And I suggested raising money for different charities.”

Walker said he takes the courthouse for granted as he passes through for business. And he added that many people at the gala said they’d never been inside it before.

Judge Scott Bittner also said that he takes the courthouse for granted as he only goes there for business.

“I think it’s a great way to use it,” he said. “Let the citizens in and see it. They pay the taxes to keep the lights on.”

“It’s nice to see everyone enjoy themselves in a social atmosphere.”

All of the funds raised at the gala will go to Somerset Inc.’s community revitalization and economic development efforts, said Coughenour.

They will also use funds to benefit Trinity Park and build a stage for events there along West Main Street in Somerset.

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