Title changes: Clerk of Courts requests renovations to title office

With costs unknown, the Auglaize County commissioners plan to work with the Auglaize County Clerk of Courts to renovate the county title office.

“I don’t know how much this would cost,” Auglaize County Clerk of Courts Jean Meckstroth said Thursday as she presented a list of 10 specific items she’d like to see updated in the office.

Commissioners planned to do a walk-through of the county office, located in a complex in the 600 block of South Blackhoof Street, before approving any plans.

While Meckstroth said the office is busy the least in February and March, Commissioner Doug Spencer said not to expect any work to begin on the office until the courthouse renovation project is complete, which is scheduled for June.

“We’ll see what the bids are,” Spencer said, recommending that they get quotes on work and then decide how to proceed. “Once we get the courthouse project done then we’ll look at it.”

Meckstroth said she’d rather have it done earlier, but Commissioner John Bergman echoed Spencer’s sentiments saying that they have to make sure the courthouse project is completed first.

Meckstroth first made her request for updates for the office during a budget meeting in December and prior to that former Auglaize County Clerk of Courts Sue Ellen Kohler had made the same request.

Meckstroth said some money from the Certificate of Title Administration budget could be applied to the project, but not knowing what revenues may be, she preferred to keep up to four years worth of expenses in that budget, which currently reflects a balance of approximately $517,000.

“We’re starting to see an increase, but I can’t guarantee how much money we’re going to have coming in with cross county titling,” Meckstroth said. “I have absolutely no idea what this would cost, but I’m willing to put some toward it because it definitely needs to be updated.

 “I know this has been an ongoing request of the former Clerk of Courts,” she said. “I think county employees should come before renters.”

Approximately $15,000 in updates were made to another portion of the building recently at the request of tenants renting an office for state motor vehicle operator’s license exams, which has since moved from the building.

The improvements were meant to keep the exam office in the building, but in the meantime they relocated to the Wapakoneta Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, where they remain.

The county building which holds the title office on South Blackhoof Street also holds a local office for the deputy registrar, whose personnel also have expressed interest in expanding into the renovated area, but Meckstroth requested renovations be made to the county office before any more changes be made for renters.

She also said she recently noticed a substantial amount of water laying on a window sill and dripping from the door frame in the newly renovated office area. Commissioners planned to check on those issues, which should have been alleviated with the improvements.

Meckstroth said she thought bringing the title office up-to-date and more in line with the look of offices in the Auglaize County Administration Building or courthouse could serve as quite a morale boost for employees.

Included in the list of proposed renovations were spouting and soffit replacements outside the building, along with new flooring, relocated vents, and paneling removed inside the building.

Meckstroth said she wanted the paneling replaced with wainscoting and a chair rail installed. Drywall should be put in before painting if walls were in poor shape, along with all new trim.

Also on the clerk’s list was a telephone and alarm system installed in the imaging room, a two-drawer filing cabinet and mini-blinds for the back office windows.

“The objective is to get rid of the paneling completely,” Meckstroth said.  “It really needs an update.

“It’s dark,” she said. “The ceiling has never been painted since lights were put in. There have been no changes in 20 years except new windows.”

She said she hoped to save some money with the project by using leftover linoleum flooring and molding from the recent remodeling of the former driver’s exam office housed in the building and planned to stick with a neutral gray and beige color scheme.

“Updates would make it look so much more appealing,” Meckstroth said.