PREBLE COUNTY — Clerk of Courts Chris Washington has proposed a new Title Office building be constructed. Currently, the project is in the planning stages, with a feasibility study under way.
Washington has been interested in constructing a new building for the Title Office for eight years now. When originally proposed, Preble County Commissioners at the time were not interested.
According to Washington, the Title Office currently has a growing balance of over $700,000.
“It continues to grow. It wouldn’t surprise me if we had a million dollars in our fund by the time the office would have to start making payments on the building. We have the funds to make payments on the building,” he said.
He explained, the Preble County Commissioners cannot ask the Title Office to pay rent as they are a county office, but the Clerk of Courts would have to agree to pay rent.
As proposed, the building will contain the license bureau, driver’s exam station, Title Office, and Preble County Sheriff’s Office Squad Room.
In the past, it was even discussed to include Board of Elections (BOE) in the new building. The parties involved toured the old L&M Building, but decided it wouldn’t work for their purposes.
Without the BOE, Washington toured the old Art Center on Hillcrest Drive with the Preble County Commissioners, but decided it would not be a good location for the driver’s exam station.
Washington explained, the Department of Public Safety would have to approve the location and they believed Hillcrest Drive would not be the optimal location for the driving test. The student testing would have to drive into town, as the location does not immediately present enough obstacles for driving ability to be tested properly.
From there, Washington proposed a property located south of the Preble County Jail. The Ohio Department of Public Safety approved that location, as it would offer the obstacles needed.
In late 2019, Preble County Commissioners permitted Washington to proceed with a feasibility study on a building. Washington’s office received approval from the Department of Public Safety as well.
Recently, the feasibility study completion date was pushed back to June 1. This will allow for a full investigation of the project and ensure the planning is done correctly.
Washington is not yet positive on a price, but had been told it could be a “two and a half million dollar” project.
He believes this building will be a great addition to Preble County, as the Title Office has been paying rent for its current locations for 25 years now.
“We can afford to construct this building, so there is no need to pay rent now. Especially if the Department of Public Safety is willing to pay rent to us, why not give it a try? Let’s find out if we can do it,” Washington said.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH