County officials Monday started an assessment of the future home of the Harrison County Health Department to see if it complies with federal laws.
That assessment of the second floor of the Professional Building is expected by the end of the week, just a few days before the department's March 31 deadline to be out of its current location in the Harrison County Courthouse.
But the report is a necessity, said Terry Schulte, the county's Americans With Disabilities Act coordinator.
"All public agencies must undertake an ADA assessment," she said Monday. "There are three steps É We have to look at the physical facility, the programs É , and their employment practices."
She was scheduled to do a preliminary inspection of the site Monday afternoon. That will be followed by a more in-depth inspection Tuesday or Wednesday, she said.
Because of the looming eviction deadline, the facility part of the assessment is the first scheduled, she said.
"We have to look at the actual building itself," she said. "We'll look at everything É and mark which ones are in compliance, and which ones are not."
The report will detail how to bring areas not in compliance up to code, Schulte said.
One area that will be examined in the assessment is the building's elevator, Schulte said. Some critics of the choice to move there have said that the elevator is too small for the department's needs.
The Board of Health unanimously approved the site on South Third Street, above the Clarksburg Beauty Academy, after meeting Friday and again Saturday morning.
Members agreed to let board President Mary Ann Iquinto sign the lease pending the outcome of the assessment.
Under the agreement, the board will lease the roughly 5,400 square feet of space for $2,500 monthly, said Randy Moodispaugh, department administrator.
Governmental bodies can only enter into one-year lease agreements.
County commissioners are forcing the department to move to make room for a third circuit court division, which was created by the West Virginia Legislature in 1999.
The current circuit judges reported to the commission that a third courtroom and staff offices will be needed when the new judge takes office in January 2001.
That means renovations must be completed by the end of this year.
Because the ADA assessment must be completed before the lease can be signed, it was largely business as usual for Health Department workers Monday.
They cannot start packing or moving until the agreement is signed, and some renovations are completed, Moodispaugh said.
"Our hands are tied for now," he said.