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Brooke courthouse restrictions relaxed

COURTHOUSE, DUMPING DISCUSSED — The Brooke County Commissioners met Tuesday in the main courtroom of the county courthouse because their meeting room is occupied by electronic voting machines being used for the upcoming election. Seating space in the courtroom has been marked to encourage safe distancing and occupants have worn masks to comply with orders by the state Supreme Court aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19. -- Warren Scott

WELLSBURG — The Brooke County Commission, Tuesday, announced restrictions on visits to the county courthouse will be lightened and discussed the prevalence of illegal dumping in the county.

The commissioners said visitors are no longer required to make appointments when visiting the courthouse. Instead they will be issued a pass to the department they want to see and will be asked to wait if another visitor is there before them, they said.

County Clerk Kim Barbetta said appointments should be made by those seeking access to deeds and related records because of the limited space in the vault where they are kept.

The appointments may be made by calling (304) 737-3661.

Barbetta said as early voting continues and her department prepares for Tuesday’s primary election, cautionary measures are being taken. They include providing voters with cotton swabs or gloves to make their choices on the electronic voting machines and wiping down the devices between each use.

The machines have been set up in the commission’s meeting room, where voters can be directed through one door and out another.

Barbetta said turnout for early voting, which concludes Saturday, has been light, but a large number of absentee ballots have been received. Plans call for those votes to be counted with others on Tuesday night.

Barbetta said no polling sites have changed since the last election. Anyone with questions may call her office at the above number.

County commissioner, sheriff, magistrate, county school board seats and state legislators are among local offices on the ballots.

In related business, the Rev. Brian Knight asked how long masks will be required of courthouse visitors.

While voters aren’t required to wear them, other visitors have been asked to do so, and the state Supreme Court has ordered that everyone attending court hearings wear them.

In response, County Commissioner A.J. Thomas said, “Right now we’re following the guidance of our health department and state Supreme Court, so the answer is until they tell us not to.”

In other business, Anthony “Butch” Rotellini resigned as part-time investigator of illegal dumping and dilapidated structures.

While presenting a stack of 12 pending complaints, he stated that efforts to address those issues had “gone stagnant.”

Following the meeting, the commissioners said pursuing legal action against those responsible can be time-consuming, confirming owners of deteriorating buildings legally must be given time to address them before prosecution can occur.

County Commissioner Stacey Wise said Rotellini should be applauded for efforts resulting in the removal and cleanup of many abandoned structures.

In related business, the commissioners confirmed the dumping of nonrecyclable trash in bins maintained by the Brooke County Solid Waste Authority has resulted in their being moved to the board’s recycling center on Mac Barnes Drive in Beech Bottom.

It’s not the first time in recent years the board has relocated the bins after reporting assorted refuse was mixed with paper, cardboard and aluminum and steel cans.

Heidi Kirchner, the board’s office manager, said it must pay for such materials to be dumped at a local landfill, adding to costs for the recycling program.

Wise said video cameras have been posted at the center to record anyone leaving nonrecyclables there.

The board continues to accept televisions, computers and tires between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Only rimless tires will be accepted, and there is a charge of 35 cents to $1 per pound for the televisions because the board’s staff must remove and dump wood frame and other housing from them.

For information, call (304) 527-3947.

The board also announced the terms of two members of the Northern Panhandle Workforce Investment Board are up and it will accept letters of interest in them.

The seats must be held by representatives of the private business sector and adult education/literacy.

Letters of interest should be sent to the county clerk’s office within two weeks.

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