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Judicial center opening targeted for Dec. 4

October 27, 2006|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The Berkeley County Judicial Center at 380 W. South St. in Martinsburg is tentatively slated to open for public use Dec. 4, County Commission President Howard L. Strauss announced Thursday.

Though not all offices will be moved there by that time, Strauss anticipated the Circuit Clerk's office would be ready to serve the public at the new location, assuming the renovated Berkeley building of the Blue Ridge Outlets off South Raleigh Street passes a final fire code inspection and belatedly ordered security equipment is installed.

"These moves are not going to be easy," said Strauss, who is asking the public to be patient in what is an unprecedented consolidation of government offices into the 125,000-square-foot facility.

The project cost an estimated $20 million.

The county's five magistrates and supporting clerks and staff are scheduled to move after the circuit court, followed by probation and prosecuting attorney offices, which now are scattered along King, John and Spring streets.

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It was not immediately clear whether any of the court offices would suspend operations in order to make the move, but Strauss anticipated some moves would take place during the week as well as over weekends.

Magistrate Joan V. Bragg said Thursday she didn't plan to hold court hearings the week of the expected move from her current office at 120 W. John St. and anticipated public announcements would be made concerning the relocation as the time nears.

Strauss said county leaders are negotiating with state officials in Charleston, W.Va., to determine how much money the county will be reimbursed for providing new furnishings for the courts, which are under the oversight of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia.

Though unsure of an exact figure, Strauss anticipated the reimbursement would be more than $100,000.

County commissioners Thursday approved three additional furniture purchases for the new judicial center as part of its regular session Thursday. And Strauss noted that one of the high court justices was in favor of using the same type of furnishings in other courthouse improvement projects around the state.

The County Commission also voted to officially designate the judicial center, including the neighboring, vacant and yet-to-be renovated Crawford building, as the County Courthouse, effective Nov. 15.

The Dunn Building at 400. W. Stephen St. was officially designated as an annex of the Berkeley County Courthouse.

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