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To-do list a big one at county-owned Crawford Building

August 19, 2005|by CANDICE BOSLEY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Old light bulbs piled on the floor, yellowing years-old pamphlets and empty cabinets keeping the spiders company inside the Crawford Building in Martinsburg are going to be replaced with county offices after the building is gutted.

Several county officials toured the building with architectural engineers Thursday afternoon, planning where to put the offices of the county clerk.

County clerk offices include voter registration, hunting and fishing licenses, administration, finance, fiduciary and records, including the storage of deeds.

DMJM, the architectural firm overseeing the project, should have its report on the building finished by next summer, allowing for contracting bids to be sought, Commissioner Howard Strauss said.

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Bids could be awarded in the fall, allowing construction to begin in October or November, Strauss said.

The Crawford Building is one of three buildings the county bought at an auction in 2002 for $3.8 million. The complex previously was the site of an outlet shopping center.

Construction on the Dunn Building, which houses the County Commission, tax and assessor's offices, among others, is nearly finished. The first floor of the building is leased to The Community and Technical College of Shepherd.

Windows of the Dunn Building still need to be replaced, and exterior bricks will be cleaned and sealed, Strauss said.

Construction is under way at the Berkeley Building, which should open next summer as a comprehensive judicial center.

The Crawford Building sits between the two and is parallel to Stephen Street.

Ken Jandura of DMJM and Berkeley County Clerk John Small sat down at a table together for more than half an hour before the tour, discussing possible locations for each office.

Because of space restrictions, some of the offices will need to be on the building's second floor, Jandura said.

Where to store the county's voting ballots and hundreds of voting machines also needs to be determined.

The public entrance will be on the east side of the building, near the intersection with Maple Avenue. The future entryway now is a weed-covered brick patio.

Matthew Hjermstad of DMJM said the building will be gutted. New electrical, plumbing, heating and air conditioning systems will be installed and the roof will be replaced, he said.

Strauss and Commissioner Ron Collins suggested that a red tile floor be saved. The architects made no promises.

Strauss also said he wants the building's thick stone walls to be left intact and visible. The building, a former mill, is around a century old.

"There's a lot of work to be done," Hjermstad said at the end of the tour.

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