Officials take steps to improve Courthouse security

Panic buttons, X-ray machine to be used to secure Moffat County agencies after Sheriff's Department moves

Moffat County has always valued unfettered freedom and access, and still does. However, today's society is very different than what existed even 20 years ago.

The Moffat County Commissioners realize that, and at Tuesday's board meeting, decided how to improve security at the Courthouse.

After reviewing a survey of county employees on their opinion of the security level and what improvements were necessary, the Board of County Commissioners laid the groundwork for future improvements. They examined several options, and took the next step Tuesday by assigning improvement purchases to this budget cycle and the next.

The first step will be to purchase new doors for the east and west entrances. The current doors have not functioned properly since work was done making them handicap accessible, Commissioner T. Wright Dickinson said, and the present solution of wrapping a chain around the handles when closing the building is not a safe, nor a smart, policy.

The new doors will be purchased through an Energy Impact Grant, and the process for acquiring and installing them will begin immediately.

The next security improvement will be provided as a gift.

"Routt County has offered to give us an X-ray machine from the airport, if we want to use that type of machine," Administrative Services Director Debra Murray said. "It could be placed at the entrance of the third level of the Courthouse and used to screen people during a trial that needs extra security or used on a more regular basis."

The system is supposedly in good working order, and only needs to be transported from the airport to the courthouse for Moffat County to claim it, Murray said.

All the Commissioners were in favor of acquiring the X-ray device if it proved to be in good condition, and viewed the machine as a part of a gradual security build up.

"We don't want to end up with a lock-down facility, where people don't feel they can access their courts or their government agencies," Les Hampton said. "With the new, secure doors, this machine, and with the panic buttons in place, I think we'll have achieved a sense of comfort for the employees in the courthouse, made some steps to secure this facility, and still allow the courthouse to function as it has."

The board left open the possibility for further security arrangements in the future, should they be necessary.

A panic button system will be allotted to next year's budget cycle and will cost between $15,000 and $19,000, depending on the number of buttons purchased and their locations.

In other business, the board:

Heard the Road and Bridge Department's monthly report.

The County Road 4 traffic study is completed for the east side of the county and is now progressing to the west side.

The commissioners requested an estimate for paving the entrances and parking lot at the Armory building.

Heard the Social Services monthly report from Marie Peer. The highlight was the success of Child Support Services, which is working to reduce the caseload and collect overdue child support payments. The commissioners asked for a one-page draft on how the process for collecting overdue support could be improved, and plans to pass the suggestions on to the state legislature.

Approved Resolution 2001-23 concerning the organization and price for requesting copies of county records.

Heard the Sheriff's Department's monthly report from Sheriff Buddy Grinstead. Grinstead raised the possibility of a adopting a tobacco ordinance for the county, similar to the one the city is considering. No action was taken.

Grinstead also requested the county adopt a resolution making the entire property of the Public Safety Center a smoke-free environment. The issue of using inmates for landscaping work was also discussed; Grinstead would allow the use of inmates for the work, but has received no communication from the Moffat County Maintenance Department on the possibility.

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