They're moving in anyway

December 01, 2006|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - Berkeley County Commission President Howard Strauss said Thursday he could provide a list of items not yet completed in the new judicial center, but noted the county's 23rd Judicial Circuit judges decided to stay with their moving plan this week and open the building to the public Monday.

Judge Christopher C. Wilkes said his office received a call from county officials on Tuesday indicating that the Judicial Center at 380 W. South St., was not ready for he and fellow circuit judges David H. Sanders and Gray Silver III.

"Everything was packed by then," said Wilkes in an interview at his now mostly barren office at 110 W. King St.

"The court felt we needed to move now."

Wilkes said his only inconvenience Thursday was being restricted to communicating with other offices on a cellular phone. Silver and Sanders were not available to comment, but Wilkes said he and his staff were "thrilled" to be moving into the new judicial center.


He said he hoped the community would recognize the efforts of Strauss and other county leaders to redevelop the downtown historic woolen mill complex and former home of Blue Ridge Outlets shopping center.

"He's done a lot," Wilkes said of Strauss' leading role with the project.

Strauss opted not to seek re-election and will leave office at the end of the year.

Charged with security staffing, Sheriff W. Randy Smith said Thursday he told Strauss and fellow Commissioners Steven C. Teufel and Ronald K. Collins about the lingering issues that needed to be addressed in the building, but noted the decision to open was out of his hands.

"Hopefully, they will be taken care of on time," Smith said. "We're going to do the best we can with what we have to work with."

Beginning today and continuing through the weekend, Circuit Clerk Virginia Sine and her department's staff is expected to move into the new center and be open to serve residents on Monday. The Magistrate Court is expected to move next, followed by probation, family court and the prosecuting attorney's office.

"This is my third move, three times a charm," Sine said Wednesday as her staff continued to pack and make sure equipment was labeled for the move.

"We've stayed open each time we've moved and never have closed."

"I've got it down to a science," Sine said.

Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely told commissioners meeting Thursday that her office was prepared to go to court at the new judicial center Monday.

Games-Neely noted her office wasn't slated to relocate from the Spring Street offices until the first week of January.

"We're going to let (them) work out the bugs first," Games-Neely said smiling.

Strauss acknowledged it wasn't "ideal" that contractors' work on the judicial center would continue even after the building opens Monday.

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