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
  • forum1 VIDEO: Meet the Candidates

    ABOUT THE FORUM:
    The Beckley-Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce hosted a Meet the Candidates forum Thursday morning at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center.

    April 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • Forum: U.S. Senate and House

    U.S. Senate
    The lone candidate for U.S. Senate to attend the Beckley-Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce Meet the Candidate Forum, David Wamsley, described himself as “the most liberal candidate, the most conservative candidate and the most moderate candidate” in the race. Wamsley said he believes each individual issue should be dealt with on its merits and not because of partisan politics.

    April 25, 2014

  • Forum: House of Delegates

    District 28
    Democratic House of Delegates candidates Jeffry Pritt and James Brown focused on issues dealing with the efficiency of the Legislature, crime, infrastructure and taxes.

    April 25, 2014

  • Forum: Board of Education

    Perennial board of education issues of technology, consolidation and truancy were among the questions dealt with Thursday by candidates for a seat on the Raleigh County Board of Education.

    April 25, 2014

  • After being line-item vetoed from state budget, Meadow Bridge to get $50,000 from WVDOE

    After the prospect was initially vetoed by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin in March, Fayette County School Superintendent Keith Butcher announced this week that the county will indeed receive funds for Meadow Bridge High School after all.

    April 25, 2014

  • ARH, BARH registered nurses to stage one-day strike

    A national labor union announced Thursday that registered nurses at Beckley Appalachian Regional Hospital will join colleagues at Appalachian Regional Hospital in Hazard, Ky., in staging a one-day strike May 1.

    April 25, 2014

  • expressway Coalfields Expressway developments detailed by WVDOT

    A convoy of press, public and politics raised clouds of dust along an unfinished corridor of the long-awaited Coalfields Expressway Thursday during an open tour of the construction zone.

    April 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mercer County firefighters batting three different brush fires

    Firefighters are currently on the scene of at least three brush fires now burning in rural areas of Mercer County.

    April 24, 2014

  • BeverlyMagnumMUG.jpg Woman who attempted to rob bank at gunpoint captured in Tennessee

    A woman who attempted to rob a Bluefield bank at gunpoint has been captured in Tennessee , police said Thursday.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Former federal prison worker pleads guilty to sex offense

    A former federal prison employee pleaded guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court in Beckley to engaging in abusive sexual contact with a female inmate.

    April 24, 2014