Greenbrier County Commission Meets As Courthouse Closes To The Public, Considers COVID-19, Renovations, Budget, And More
By Bobby Bordelon
The closure of the Greenbrier County Courthouse to the general public, a letter to an architectural firm about the courthouse and a potential new sheriff's office, the upcoming budget, and more were considered by the Greenbrier County Commission on Tuesday, March 24. The meeting, held in the courthouse, was available to watch online on the Greenbrier County Courthouse Facebook Page.
"The courthouse is currently operating," said Commissioner Tammy Shiflett-Tincher. "We have no [in-person] access to the public and all of our offices are available for assistance over the phone and online. ... So if you need assistance, please call the courthouse. We're working with each department to make sure that everyone is safe, particularly to make sure we can service all the citizens of Greenbrier County."
A Facebook post to the Greenbrier County Courthouse page explained that "with the exception of emergency judicial matters, the Greenbrier County Courthouse will be closed to the general public as of Tuesday, March 24th, 2020. Each department will have limited staffing, but will be able to assist you during the regular business hours of 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with essential matters via telephone, email or regular mail. If an emergency need would arise, please contact the respective office to make arrangements to handle the situation by a scheduled appointment or other means. Screening will be in place at the door for any individual who does enter the courthouse." Phone numbers for the courthouse can be found on the Greenbrier County Courthouse Facebook page or Greenbrier County website, greenbriercounty.net.
Each commissioner thanked emergency responders and medical workers for their response during the pandemic.
"I would like to say a big thank you to our emergency services, homeland security, Paula Brown, Mike Honaker, all the ladies at the Greenbrier County Health Department, and all of our emergency services workers that are continually working through the situation on the coronavirus [COVID-19]," Tincher said.
"Everyone in the county has stepped up greatly to keep the county moving and try to keep the county safe," Commission President Lowell Rose said.
"I think there are [approximately 20] cases statewide and, thankfully, Greenbrier County has none and the adjacent counties have none," said Commissioner Mike McClung. "We have been blessed by protection so far but that does not mean that we have to not take the necessary precautions."
The commission is participating in the the Greater Greenbrier COVID-19 Task Force. Summaries of those meetings will be regularly published here on The West Virginia Daily News website.
Rose also emphasized the need to remain home and limit potential exposure.
"Walmart parking lot was packed, Kroger was packed, you could hardly get into the parking lot on Saturday," Rose said. "The worse thing is, instead of mom or dad, or one person going, you had mom, dad, and three or four children going. We do not want that. If you need to go to the store and you can go to the store, ... one family member should go and take all the precautions that you can take. Don't take the whole family."
An agreement letter with Sillings Architects could bring a number of changes to Greenbrier County's operations, including renovations to the courthouse.
"The Greenbrier County Commission is interested in comprehensive architectural building systems, renovations to the existing courthouse," Rose explained. "Our main objective is to do a remodel of the existing courthouse. Electrical systems, especially in the older part, are very antiquated. ... We don't have cooling, HVAC, in the older part [of the building]. We have the boiler system ... that has been here for many, many years. This [agreement] would cover HVAC, lighting, electrical, also we don't have a sprinkler system in the courthouse. This would supply a sprinkler system for the entire courthouse."
Included in the agreement letter is the potential for a new Greenbrier County Sheriff's Office building.
"We're also going to consider the possibility, if funding allows, to demolish the existing two-story Sheriff's office and build a new building that would encompass the sheriff's office, the judges, and other things," Rose noted.
The letter was approved by the commission, beginning the process for courthouse improvements.
The county's upcoming budget was taken up by the commission during the meeting.
"The commissioners met this past week to work on the budget," Tincher said. "It looks like our proposed budget for estimated revenues is $13,437,268 and total expenditures $13,437,268. We did work through each department's requests and approved those as we felt we had funds available.
In March, department heads presented their potential budgets to the commission for approval, with many asking for either no change or a 5 percent wage increase for their employees.
"We spent a couple of days going through this," Rose said. "[It] includes everything we felt like we needed to put into the budget for the upcoming year. As usual we try to budget conservatively so we don't go beyond what we realistically feel like our income is going to be. ...The levy rate remains the same, as it has been for the past few years, 12.93. That's on Class 1 property."
The fiscal year 2020/2021 budget was approved with a unanimous vote from the commission.
In other business:
• Bids for work on the Greenbrier County Courthouse roof were opened, ranging from approximately $70,000 to $144,000. Each bid was broken into several parts, requiring further review before the commission could decide which contract to accept.
• The poll worker list for the upcoming election, previously submitted to Greenbrier County Clerk Robin Loudermilk, was approved.
• Consideration for a Child Abuse Prevention Month Proclamation and the Children's Memorial Flag Day Ceremony was delayed to the next meeting as the final proclamation has not been finalized.
The Greenbrier County Commission's regular meetings are held the second Tuesday of each month at 10 AM and the fourth Tuesday of each month at 7 PM in the Greenbrier County Courthouse.