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Galloway gives state's attorney more time to move

The Carroll County State's Attorney's Office has been granted a 16-month extension to find a new home after being told in January the office was being kicked out of the Court Annex Building in Westminster to make room for a new Carroll County Circuit Court judge.

Circuit Court Judge Michael M. Galloway signed an administrative order Tuesday that gave the state's attorney's office until Oct. 31, 2015, to vacate the annex building, located at 55 N. Court St. in Westminster. Previously, Galloway had ordered the state's attorney's office and its 43 employees to leave by June 30.

State's Attorney Jerry Barnes said it is up to the Carroll County Board of Commissioners to find adequate facilities for the state's attorney's office. Barnes, who is running for re-election, said he does not know what, if any, progress has been made to find the office a new home.

"It's going to be their decision of how and what and when they do this," Barnes said.

Commissioner Haven Shoemaker, R-District 2, said the county is in the early stages of finding a new facility for the state's attorney's office. County staff is diligently looking into what building could provide more space for the state's attorney's office, as well the sheriff's office, he said.

If he had his druthers, Shoemaker said, he'd move the state's attorney's office to the Carroll County Public Schools administrative headquarters located at 125 N. Court St. The schools' employees would then have to be moved, but no replacement facility has yet been identified, he said.

"I think it'd be a great fit," said Shoemaker, who is also an attorney. "It's ideally situated for the state's attorney's office being in close proximity to the courthouse. That building would be preference number one for me."

The movement of people and departments from the Court Annex Building is connected to the addition of a new circuit court judge. The Maryland General Assembly passed a bill in 2013 adding the fourth circuit judgeship in Carroll. Fred Scott Hecker, a longtime Carroll County lawyer, was chosen as the fourth judge, joining Galloway, J. Barry Hughes and Thomas F. Stansfield.

In preparation of the new judge coming, Barnes moved 11 child support unit employees from the Annex Building to the Distillery Building in Westminster last summer.

Carroll County Sheriff Kenneth Tregoning was also forced to move the domestic violence unit out of the Annex Building. In August, the board of commissioners voted to designate the three-story former jail building for the sheriff's office. Tregoning planned to move some of his administrative staff to the old jail building, located adjacent to the sheriff's office. The domestic violence unit was moved to the sheriff's office, located at 100 N. Court St.

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