By Liz Beavers
Tribune Managing Editor
KEYSER – After years of oftentimes irate people sitting shoulder-to-shoulder and nose-to-nose in the hallways of the Mineral County Courthouse while they wait to go before the Family Court judge – creating a security nightmare – the Mineral County Commission Monday took some long-awaited steps to expand its courtroom space.
In a special meeting Monday morning, the county commission approved the Mineral County Building Commission's purchase of the Barr Building on West Street for $468,000.
County coordinator Mike Bland explained that the building commission will actually purchase the building, which currently houses the law offices of Jack Barr, along with Mineral County Magistrate Court, and the county commission will rent the space from the building commission.
The county currently plays rent to Barr for the space taken up by Magistrate Court.
Bland said the building will provide some much-needed space for the judicial system.
"Plans are for Magistrate court and the judges' office, and to provide space for Family Court and Magistrate Court," he said.
Bland said Barr plans to stay at least for awhile; renting office space from the county.
The county will likely utilize both floors of the building.
"We had a plan done at one time to remodel the first and second floors," Bland said. "At that time, it was to include Circuit Court, the circuit clerk and Family Court.
"The next step now is to determine what will be done," he said, adding that the county doesn't want to move offices into the building now and later have to move them back out to do renovations on the building.
Purchase of the building will provide an answer to many space issues which have plagued the county for several years …. With records kept in bathrooms, the former detention center, and every nook and cranny possible.
"Space is hard to come by at the courthouse," Bland said.
Approval of the plan to purchase the building was the last action taken under commission president Cindy Pyles' tenure.
The new commission, with Jerry Whisner in office, will meet at 9 a.m. Wednesday for the purpose of electing a new president, appoint committee representatives, and set commission meeting dates for 2013.