County building office moving

After some consideration by the Washington County Commissioners, one county entity will find itself in a new home soon.

Commissioners on Thursday approved a request from the Washington County Building Department to move to the first-floor office vacated by the Washington County Board of Elections when it moved to larger digs on Davis Avenue in August. The department is currently on the second floor of the annex.

The commissioners had several requests, Commission President David White said.

“The Building Department was the best move right now,” he said.

White said the courthouse will undergo some reshuffling in the coming months as spaces are vacated with the goal of making each office as user-friendly as possible, calling the process “musical chairs.”

“(The Building Department is) in a difficult place to find,” White said. “People complain about that. They need to have easy access to the public. Almost all their business is done with the public. This location is probably the most accessible office we have in the courthouse. It’s very easily found and (Americans With Disabilities Act) compliant.”

The Building Department has five employees. The department handles all required inspections, including structural, mechanical and fire sprinkler, permits and licenses. The department has jurisdiction over Washington County, including its villages and cities; and some areas of Noble, Monroe and Belmont counties. The office handles building permits, inspections and licenses.

Additionally, the department is under the direct oversight of the commissioners, White said.

The commissioners said the room needs some information technology work and they hope the move can be completed by year’s end.

Dave Sweigard, building official and inspector with the Washington County Building Department, could not be reached for comment Thursday about the move.

Also vying for the space were the WASCO Cafe and the county’s Information Technology Department.

Joe Faires, WASCO’s work services manager, said the plans for the space included an expansion of the menu and a more secluded dining area, which is now in the lobby going back to the Adult Probation Department.

Manager Cindy Thomas and WASCO clients operate the cafe, offering a daily special, snack and drinks from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. They also maintain the soda machines in the courthouse and operate Heart to Art Galleria and Marietta Harbor (seasonally) in downtown Marietta.

“If we make any money, it goes back into our program,” Faires said.

Donnie Rader, systems administrator for the IT Department, said the staff has not made any plans to move in light of the decision. The office is now on the first floor of the annex next to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office Civil Division.

The commissioners also discussed what is popularly known around the courthouse as the “Black Hole.” It is a large room on the second floor serving as the repository for old furniture, computer equipment and some county records.

“It’s time we do something with that in case we need to expand,” said Commissioner Ron Feathers.

The tentative plan includes recycling some items or selling them at auction.

In other business

The commissioners approved up to $3,500 to allow the Belpre Senior Citizens Center to replace a mid-1980s model refrigerator that quit working. An estimate to replace the old refrigerator’s compressor came in at $1,150.

Cathy Harper, of Marietta, volunteered and was chosen to represent Washington County on the Area 15 Youth Council.