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Magistrate move OK'd

October 26, 1997

By CLYDE FORD

Staff Writer

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - The Jefferson County Commissioners approved a plan Thursday that is expected to eventually move Jefferson County Magistrate Court down the street from its present building.

The current location of magistrate court is too cramped, with not enough space for the records and hearing room, said Jefferson County Commissioner President James Knode.

The building also is not easily accessible to those with disabilities, he said. The Jefferson County Prosecutor's Office is inaccessible on the second floor because there is no elevator, he said. The hearing room is in the basement, which can only be reached by going down a flight of stairs.

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Installing an elevator would cost too much, Knode said.

On Thursday, the commissioners approved a letter of intent and understanding to move into the St. Margaret's Building, across the street from the Jefferson County Courthouse.

The owners, First Charles Town Group Inc., will renovate the building and add on to provide sufficient space for magistrate court and the prosecutor's office.

The county owns the current magistrate building and will be a tenant in the new building. Final details on the lease will be worked out in the future.

Knode said the county had conducted studies to make sure the site will meet the needs of the magistrate court.

County Commissioner James Ruland said the former county jail, located next to the Jefferson County Courthouse, was one of the sites considered, but said renovations would have been too costly.

"The jail was unsuited and unsound," Ruland said.

Architects and engineers will finish their planning in about three to five months. Construction could begin in March 1998 and be completed in a year to 18 months, Knode said.

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