Residents of Blythewood soon will have a magistrates office and regional sheriffs office.
Magistrate Josef Robinson will hold court at a newly renovated storefront, at 118 McNulty St., a former hardware store. The date the offices will open have not been announced, but Robinson said he expects it will be after the new year.
Im really excited about going into the new office and learning the community of Blythewood, said Robinson, 55, appointed to the bench in May 2011.
The county spent just over $1 million to buy and upfit the property, chief Magistrate Donald Simons said.
The new site re-establishes a courtroom in Blythewood abandoned 25 years ago. Since then, growth in the northeast part of the county made it the logical choice for a new office, Simons said.
Magistrates primarily handle traffic citations, along with civil and criminal cases.
Its one of the courts you dont hear much about, said 31-year Magistrate Mel Maurer, the last judge assigned to Blythewood. It stays under the radar, but its a very busy court.
The county closed the Blythewood office in 1988, when it was combined with Pontiac, Maurer said.
Now, Richland Countys lower court has grown to 11 districts staffed by 16 magistrates, two of them serving part-time.
Simons said the new Blythewood office will draw from caseloads now handled by the Pontiac and Dentsville magistrates.
Meanwhile, the sheriffs Region 6 patrol headquarters will relocate from a mobile home near the entrance to Lake Carolina.
But department spokesman Capt. Chris Cowan said the shift will not affect response times or the presence of deputies because theyre rarely in the office anyway.
We dont want them sitting in the office, he said. Theyll be patrolling the area.
About 40 officers will work out of the Blythewood region headquarters, about half of them deputies in the patrol division.
Cowan said citizens will be better served by the joint presence of a patrol headquarters, headed by Capt. Roxana Meetze, and magistrates office.
The office will be used as a place to meet with community groups and hold squad meetings.
Cowan said the departments traffic safety unit will be moving into a storefront at Lake Carolina, at no cost to the department. He did not know when that might happen.
Reach Hinshaw at (803) 771-8641.