The Berkeley County Commission has ended a yearlong dispute by closing the courthouse women's restroom, a longtime meeting place popular with downtown shoppers in Martinsburg, W.Va.
The commissioners last week fired the restroom's two elderly attendants and said the facility will close Oct. 30, citing a federal law requiring accessibility to the handicapped.
Commission spokeswoman Jan Sutherland said the bathroom, built in 1850 and remodeled in 1908, cannot feasibly be refurbished for wheelchairs.
"There's no way we can put elevators or ramps in it," Sutherland said. "The building is too old."
The decision eliminates the jobs of Velma Stout, 85, and her daughter, Lena Butts, 66. Stout had worked as an attendant for 19 years, and her daughter for two years. Their salaries had been paid from federal revenue-sharing dollars, said Norm Risavi, the county administrator.
It was the second time this year that the women, who earn a combined annual salary of $7,700, were told they were out of work. In March, they were notified that the restroom would close July 1.
But the commissioners decided to leave it open after a survey showed that about 200 women a month relied on the courthouse facility, Sutherland said.
The facility traditionally has doubled as a sitting-and-chatting room.