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Commission OKs relocation site for sheriff, 911 center

April 09, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - The discussion about how to meet Jefferson County government's space needs continued Thursday when the Jefferson County Commission voted to move the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department and the 911 center into a new building in Bardane, W.Va.

The commission also decided to have a public hearing to gauge public opinion on whether the remaining county offices should remain in Charles Town.

The vote on the plan came during a lengthy and at times heated debate between the commissioners.

The discussion began when Commissioner Greg Corliss suggested that a new building for the sheriff's department and 911 center be constructed beside the Jefferson County Health Department along Wiltshire Road in Bardane.

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Bardane is about five miles west of Charles Town along W.Va. 9.

The building would be built on 11 acres owned by the county, Corliss said.

Corliss said there are two advantages to the plan:

  • The county can save on building costs if the two agencies are put under one roof.

  • Moving the sheriff's department out of town means county government offices could be considered less of a terrorist target.


New space is being considered for the two departments because county officials say the sheriff's department location along West Washington Street in Charles Town is not a good one and the 911 center is running out of space.

Space for the two departments is just part of the picture. The commissioners say they also will need additional courtroom space and the fate of the former Jefferson County Jail remains undecided.

Commissioner James G. Knode suggested the commissioners study the idea of building a new 200,000-square-foot governmental office complex away from the downtown block where the Jefferson County Courthouse, the old jail, the sheriff's department and other county offices are located.

It would be cheaper to build a new complex away from downtown, and the commissioners could avoid issues such as a historical review of the old jail, Knode said.

The commissioners are about to have a historical review conducted on the jail following an effort by a group of local residents to save the structure.

Knode said that under his proposal, a developer could build the office complex and either sell it to the county or lease it to the county with an option to buy.

Corliss and Commissioner Rusty Morgan expressed concerns about Knode's idea.

Morgan said he watched a Midwestern town dry up after the county government decided to move out, and he did not want to see that happen in Charles Town.

Commissioners Al Hooper, Corliss and Morgan voted against Knode's plan. Commissioner Jane Tabb voted with Knode in favor of it.

Hooper, Corliss, Morgan and Tabb then voted in favor of Corliss' plan. Knode voted no.

Corliss said the county should be able to break ground on a new sheriff's department building later this year.

Although Tabb ended up supporting Corliss' plan, she said she was concerned about the commissioners not having a firm grasp on the cost of the new sheriff's department and 911 center.

Morgan responded by saying the commissioners could reject any contract they receive to build the center.

Corliss and Morgan said they wanted to have a public hearing to hear local citizens' input on whether remaining offices should be moved out of town.

Knode asked why a public hearing was being requested after the commissioners had voted down his plan and decided to move the sheriff's department and 911 to a new building.

"What's anybody got to say?" Knode said.

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