Drivers' registration: Berkeley County building will assist in voting process

January 26, 2007|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Drive-through Berkeley County government service is expected to return soon in the form of voters' registration assistance, Berkeley County Clerk John W. Small Jr. said Thursday.

"As far as I know, it's the first one in West Virginia," Small said of his plan to offer the convenience at 110 W. King St., a former One Valley Bank building last occupied by Berkeley County Circuit Clerk Virginia Sine's office and 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge Christopher C. Wilkes.

Sine and Wilkes moved their offices late last year to the county's new judicial center at 380 W. South St. After the county purchased the building in the 1990s, Small said the drive-through was used by the Berkeley County Sheriff's Tax Office, which moved to the Dunn Building at 400 W. Stephen St. in 2004.

With the assistance of county facilities staff, Small said the building also is expected to be reconfigured by the end of March to accommodate residents who wish to vote early before Election Day.


To access the drive-through, motorists will have to turn left off of one-way College Street, and will be served by one of two service lanes, Small said.

In addition to voters' registration, Small said the county clerk's finance office will move into the basement of the bank building from the third floor of the historic courthouse at 100 W. King St.

County officials expect Small's use of the bank building to be a temporary measure until his office joins most other county government departments at the Dunn Building, once part of the former four-building, Blue Ridge Outlets shopping complex. His office is expected to be in space now occupied by Blue Ridge Community and Technical College.

The county commission last summer abandoned a plan to move Small's office into the former outlet shopping complex's Crawford Building, which instead was designated to accommodate the county's need for more space for judicial affairs. Renovations to the historic structure are not expected to be complete until 2009, and county commissioners on Thursday signed off on an agreement with Los Angeles-based DMJM H&N Inc. to provide architectural and engineering services for the project.

Sine told the commission on Thursday that for now, the five circuit judges for Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan counties would hold hearings in the adjoining Berkeley Building of the Berkeley County Judicial Center, which only has three circuit courtrooms. Newly appointed judge Gina M. Groh will use a magistrate courtroom, and Judge Thomas W. Steptoe Jr. will travel from Jefferson County to hold hearings in the building, she said.

"I have to have a clerk for each one of these judges," Sine said.

Sine told the commission that she was concerned whether multiple trial proceedings happening at the same time would pose a problem with seating a jury.

"We're lucky if out of 300 (residents), we can get 100 of them," Sine said.

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