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County clerk's office is different, but it still works

October 17, 2006|by TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - Sitting in front of a white, fold-down table that she calls her desk, Morgan County Clerk Debra Kesecker has an upbeat attitude in the small makeshift office that she shares with a staff member.

Kesecker and her staff moved into one of the modular buildings being used as offices for county personnel after a fire destroyed the courthouse and connected buildings Aug. 8.

"We were sitting in folding chairs until recently," she said.

Purple lace curtains top the windows in the temporary office and her staff of six each works at fold-down tables. Industrial shelves line the walls and a lot of supplies are housed in metal storage containers outside, she said.

She said she and her staff are still living out of boxes.

"Things will be better when the furniture arrives," she said.

The office does have phones and computers, she said.

"It's just like starting all over again," Kesecker said.

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In spite of the temporary housing conditions, the office is ready for early voting for the November election, which will be held in the Morgan County Clerk's office between Wednesday and Nov. 4.

Courthouse update



County personnel moved into the temporary offices at the end of August, and Kesecker said the new courthouse probably won't be rebuilt for five or six years.

"If it's earlier, then I won't be disappointed," she said.

The estimated cost to rebuild the courthouse complex is still undetermined, said Morgan County Administrator Bill Clark.

Based on what the building plan is, the cost should be $250 to $350 per square foot, he said.

New vault building



A new concrete block building was constructed to replace the damaged vaults in the courthouse that house the county clerk and circuit court records, Kesecker said.

Beginning in October the vault opened and documents were finally available for review, she said. Kesecker said one staff member is in the vault at all times.

The vault building is behind the Magistrate Court building, close to the modular housing units.

Kesecker learned recently, she said, the old land record books at the back of the courthouse vault had blistered or charred covers.

The books were on a metal book shelf with a metal back on the north side of the vault against the wall, and the heat from the fire damaged the covers.

"It was that close," she said.

The contents were not damaged and no records were lost, she said. Some of the land records were assessment books from the 1800s, she said.

Kesecker said she is investigating grant possibilities to get new binders for the books.

Voting machines



All 46 touch-screen voting machines were destroyed in the fire, Kesecker said.

Logan County, W.Va., had 38 machines available after it consolidated precincts and offered them to Morgan County. She said the county paid $850 for each machine, which would normally cost about $3,100 each.

The other eight machines needed were borrowed from the W.Va. Secretary of State's office, she said.

On Election Day, voters in Precinct 7 who voted at the courthouse in the past will vote in the lobby of the Magistrate Court office on the corner of Fairfax and Mercer streets, she said.

Kesecker has been serving Morgan County as county clerk since April 2001. Her current term expires in 2010.

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