Commissioners in favor of securing courthouse entrance
by Jennifer Cohron
Mar 16, 2014 | 2137 views | 0 0 comments | 43 43 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Access to the Walker County Courthouse may soon be limited to one secure entrance.

Members of the Walker County Commission discussed courthouse security at a Thursday morning work session.

“The most immediate thing we can do is to lock all the entrances to the courthouse except the basement entrance,” said commission chairman Billy Luster.

Luster also recommended moving a metal detector to the entrance and posting the sheriff’s deputy who currently patrols the courthouse at that location.

The annex, where the commission offices and courtrooms are located, would only be accessible by a crosswalk that connects to the courthouse.

“This is the only quick fix that I can see, gentleman, that is not restricted by monetary means,” Luster said.

Unlike the main doors of the courthouse, the entrance under consideration is accessible to individuals with disabilities.

District 4 representative Steven Aderholt said the commission does not have the resources to make other entrances compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“Those costs make it prohibitive for us to do anything in the way of new construction to make it totally accessible. However, if we do reduce it to one access without any new construction, we still have to comply with the Disabilities Act,” Aderholt said.

District 2 representative Dan Wright said officials in Washington recently informed him that the county should be eligible to receive funds from the Department of Homeland Security for security equipment.

Wright, Luster and District 1 representative Keith Davis all expressed an interest in eventually creating two secure entrances, one for the courthouse and another for the annex.

“There could be some federal grant money for a lift or a ramp to make an access to the courthouse because I know the Revenue Commissioner’s office is busy. It’s going to be inconvenient for everybody going in one door, but public safety and the safety of our judges and employees has to come first, and we have to put inconvenience second,” Davis said.

Other matters discussed by the commission on Thursday:

•consider adding $3,700 to the landfill’s budget to cover overtime for employees who are working on Saturdays or rearranging schedules for employees at the landfill to cover the weekend shifts without overtime.

•eliminate duplication of pest control services. Commissioners expressed an interest in using Fields Pest Control at the county jail and Ellis Pest Control at other locations, including the courthouse.

The move is expected to save the county $4,680 per year.

•establish an official policy for closing the courthouse during inclement weather.

•review all of the county’s policies and procedures and update where necessary.