The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest News

January 12, 2012

Satellite magistrate office to close

LEWISBURG — An unexpected decision by the state Supreme Court’s administrator to close a satellite magistrate office in the western end of Greenbrier County is causing grief for law enforcement and financial hardship for the volunteer fire department that provides the office space.

County Commission President Betty Crookshanks read a letter from court administrative director Steven D. Canterbury announcing the impending closure of the Rupert office during Tuesday evening’s commission session.

In the letter, dated Dec. 19, Canterbury takes full responsibility for the decision to close Greenbrier County’s satellite magistrate office in Rupert.

He cited both financial considerations and an assertion that I-64 “has considerably cut the time and enhanced the safety of the drive from Rupert to Lewisburg” as figuring into his decision to close the office, effective Jan. 31.

“It is never easy to close a public facility, and I am sure that many in the far western part of Greenbrier County will not be pleased,” Canterbury wrote.

Among those displeased by the decision, Rupert Fire Chief Dalton Elmore decried both the financial hit on his department — which is losing $675 a month in rent paid by the court and the county — and the inconvenience to the residents of the western end.

“It shows a lack of consideration by a public agency,” Elmore fumed during a telephone interview with The Register-Herald Wednesday morning. “It’s disgusting.”

Compounding the financial hardship on the 13-member fire company is the failure of all involved to notify the VFD the space is being vacated.

“We found out yesterday (Tuesday) about 10 in the morning,” Elmore said. “There was no reason given, no consideration. There’s not been a word to the general public, but the county’s known about it since last month.”

Crookshanks said during Tuesday’s meeting she had assumed the high court was contacting all interested parties and perhaps even issuing a press release on the planned closure.

The VFD hopes to be able to find a new tenant for the space — approximately 1,500 square feet, including two restrooms — but Elmore said at least one prospective tenant was lost because the department was not notified by the first of the year that the county would break its lease.

Elmore was also incensed by what he believes is a lack of consideration for the residents of the county’s western end, many of whom live more than a 30-minute drive over crooked roads from the nearest entrance to I-64.

“I go to the doctor in Lewisburg, and I have to allow the better part of an hour to get to my appointment,” Elmore said, pointing out Rupert is only 6 miles from I-64’s Sam Black interchange.

Elmore’s wife, Mary, who is the VFD’s secretary, said, “It’s going to be an inconvenience for people who live here to drive all the way into Lewisburg to the magistrate office.”

Rainelle Police Chief J.P. Stevens said having the satellite office only 10 miles from his town has allowed his two-man department to spend more time investigating crimes instead of being on the road.

“It’s 40 minutes for every trip we make to Lewisburg, and the same amount of time coming back,” Stevens noted. “It’s going to be a big disappointment for us to have that office close.”

Having found out at least a week ago through informal channels that the office would close, however, Stevens and Rainelle Mayor Andrea Pendleton made arrangements to acquire some of the furnishings from the Rupert office for the Rainelle Police Department.

“I thought it was common knowledge the office was closing,” Pendleton said Wednesday, adding that she is saddened to see it happen.

“It’s an ordeal to go all the way to Lewisburg,” she said. “We only have two police officers, and if they have to run back and forth to Lewisburg all the time, it leaves the city without law enforcement coverage. My officers stay busy all the time as it is.”

Despite anecdotal evidence showing the satellite office was well used, there’s apparently no documentation to either support or disprove the assertions. A spokesperson at the Greenbrier County Magistrate office in Lewisburg stated no separate record of the satellite office’s activity has ever been kept, and no estimates can be provided.

According to the Supreme Court of Appeals’ Information Office, the Rupert site is one of only three satellite magistrate offices being closed in the entire state. The others are the Fayette County satellite in Danese and the Pocahontas County satellite office in Durbin.

— E-mail: talvey@register-herald.com

1
Text Only
Latest News
  • pasiley Watery delight

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Americans continue to be plagued by debt

    Credit card debt may have reached its lowest level in a decade, but according to a recent study on personal debt vs. income, just as more people are paying off their credit card debt monthly, nearly the same number of people are being reported for unpaid bills. 

    July 30, 2014

  • twvcheck Theatre West Virginia gives back to hospice

    Theatre West Virginia, even with its shortened season this year, has found a way to give back to the community. 

    Mike Cavendish, a past board president at TWV, presented Hospice of Southern West Virginia with a check Thursday for over $1,000. 

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Former Summers County commissioner indicted

    The Summers County grand jury handed up indictments against 17 individuals this month, including one against a former county commissioner. 

    July 30, 2014

  • Weaker prices widen second quarter losses for Arch Coal

     Arch Coal Inc. said Tuesday that its second-quarter loss widened partly because of nagging rail disruptions and weaker prices for coal used in making steel, though cost controls helped the coal producer’s latest earnings surpass analysts’ expectations.

    July 30, 2014

  • State DHHR workers to picket over large caseloads

    West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources employees are picketing outside the agency's Fayette County office to raise awareness over what they call large, unmanageable caseloads.

    July 29, 2014

  • Arch Coal posts bigger 2Q loss

    Arch Coal Inc. said Tuesday that its second-quarter loss widened partly because of nagging rail disruptions and weaker prices for coal used in making steel, though cost controls helped the coal producer's latest earnings surpass analysts' expectations.

     

    July 29, 2014

  • Tunnel.jpg Tunnel traffic to be restricted to one lane for repairs

    Highway crews are planning to do additional repairs Tuesday night and Wednesday night inside of the East River Mountain. As a result, traffic inside of the tunnel will be limited to one lane in both directions, according to Virginia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Michelle Earl.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Meth lab bust nets two Raleigh residents

    An anonymous phone call about two children in danger led authorities to a meth lab bust and the arrests of two Raleigh County residents Monday night.

    July 29, 2014

  • Congress closes in on benefits for veterans

    On the cusp of Congress’s lengthy summer break, factions sparring over legislation to strengthen health care and funding reforms for the Department of Veterans Affairs may have reached a compromise.

    July 29, 2014