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Church replaces steeple after a three-year wait

When a crane lifted a 71-foot, 7-ton spire to the top of Court Street Baptist Church, it did more than replace a blue tarp covering a hole.

It closed a long, frustrating chapter in the landmark church's history.

"We're just happy that this has come to an end," said the Rev. James Coleman, the church's pastor. "It's been a long road here, but as the hymn writer said, "We've come this far by faith.' "

In June 1993, a severe windstorm damaged the church's steeple and other city landmarks.

After city inspectors said the steeple was unsafe and should be removed, the spire was set on the ground nearby.

While brick work was being done on the tower that supports the steeple, weather and insects damaged the mostly wooden antique spire.

Then the church and its insurer engaged in a dispute over repair costs. They settled last year, but the weather delayed completion of the project.