County buys former BB&T branch for clerk's motor vehicle department

Janie Slaven | CJ

Pulaski County Government closed Thursday on the purchase of the former BB&T branch on North Main Street in downtown Somerset. Current plans are to house the Pulaski County Clerk's department for motor vehicle licensing.

The Office of Pulaski County Clerk will soon be managing three locations.

On Thursday, county officials closed on the purchase of the former BB&T branch on North Main Street just a few doors down from the Pulaski County Courthouse.

Back in May, when Fiscal Court first approved putting down a $10,000 option on the property, Judge-Executive Steve Kelley announced plans for County Clerk Linda Burnett's motor vehicle licensing department (MVL) into the building.

Last Tuesday during the regular Fiscal Court meeting, magistrates approved a short-term loan (no more than 120 days) to complete the purchase at $535,000. The loan was required because the bond the county had issued for that and other purposes won't be completed until mid-October due a delay with the Kentucky Department of Local Government.

County Attorney Martin Hatfield advised he'd spoken with BB&T attorneys about extending the closing deadline but was told the sale needed to be completed in this financial quarter. Kelley assured the court the loan would be repaid when the bond proceeds arrive.

"We are working with Linda now to put our plans into motion," Judge Kelley said Friday after closing. "It will be a huge benefit to our citizens to have a stand-alone [MVL] building with more parking and eventually a drive-through. It's exciting to see a beautiful vacant building be repurposed for the public's benefit."

Burnett also expressed her excitement over the building.

"I hope everyone will be as excited as I am," she said Saturday. "I know my staff sure are. It means a whole lot of changes with three locations to manage, but it's a good thing for us and the public."

The county clerk estimated that it would be sometime after the new year before relocation of the motor vehicle licensing department (plus any other departments the office may decide to move) can take place.

"That's my goal," Burnett said, noting that she and her office won't be able to fully focus on the project until they get the November General Election for state offices in the books. "We haven't really decided what other departments may move or what really needs to be done. I know that we'll have to add counter space.

"We'll have plenty of parking without people having to worry about the crosswalks or walking halfway through the courthouse to get on the elevator," she added. "People will love it."

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