Officials pursuing upgrade for voting precinct

PARKERSBURG – Wood County is applying for a grant to upgrade two voting precincts at the Washington Community Building to make them more accessible to those with disabilities.

The polling place is on DuPont Road at Washington and houses two separate voting precincts. There are 70 out of 84 precincts in the county considered accessible to those with disabilities. The clerk’s office has applied for and received a number of the federal Americans With Disabilities Act grants offered through the secretary of state’s office to upgrade or improve voting precincts to make them more accessible to those with disabilities.

Elizabeth Beary, deputy clerk in the voter’s registration office, told county commissioners the grant application this time is for $8,400. If approved, the county would expend the funds to have the upgrades completed, then be reimbursed through the grant.

“There are two separate precincts that vote there, it’s listed as handicapped accessible, but when you get out there it’s not up to par, knobs on the doors need to be levered, the ramps out there they need to be moved and improved,” Beary told county commissioners. “The ramps need to be wider and better quality,” Beary said.

The grant would pay for the replacement of the door handles and two ramps. She said the ramps would be a permanent addition.

“During a fiscal year, the grants are available for up to $10,000. The county has to spend the money then apply for reimbursement. We have never yet been turned down for one of these grants. This is federal money and the secretary of state’s office encourages the counties to look for precincts that need these upgrades. This work would make this precinct truly handicapped accessible,” said Jamie Six, clerk.

The commissioners agreed to sign off on the grant application.

“We want to be done by June 30 so we can qualify for another grant in the new fiscal year,” Six said. “Elizabeth and Melody (Ross) are looking for other possibilities,” the clerk told commissioners.

Beary said estimates were the work would take about a week to complete.

Past grant funding has allowed the county to improve parking lots, upgrade doors for easier access, and build, install ramps.