Two Courthouse security plans under way
Craig There are two plans for security at the Moffat County Courthouse, one short-term and the other long-term.
Thankfully, Commissioner Tom Mathers said, there's grant money for both of them.
Court employees requested county officials establish some security measures at the courthouse because they said it would be too easy for someone to bring in a loaded firearm.
The courthouse does not have any security features now.
In the short term, Moffat County applied for a $119,750 grant from the Office of the State Court Administrator to renovate the courthouse and hire security personnel.
County Budget Analyst Tinneal Gerber mailed the application Monday, and said the county should know within six weeks whether it was approved.
If the grant comes through, county officials plan to install a walk-through metal detector on the courthouse's third floor and hire as much as two new security officers to staff a security checkpoint there.
Grant funds also would pay for surveillance cameras on the first and second floors to monitor who gets on the courthouse elevator, which would only be open to handicapped residents.
In addition, the grant would continue to pay for the security officers' salaries each year going forward, she said, although there's not necessarily a guarantee it would pay their salaries forever.
"It's always a possibility, especially with state funding, that (the money) will go away," Gerber said. "But, with this grant, it's supposed to provide for things every year."
County officials do not see retrofitting the courthouse as a lasting fix, however.
It would be easier, Mathers said, to do what other communities normally do and put law enforcement and courtrooms together in the same building.
The county received a $112,500 grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs to help pay for a feasibility study examining the cost of moving the courthouse courtrooms to the Public Safety Center on First Street.
The county plans to match DOLA's grant with $37,500 of its own money to pay for the study.
With courtrooms removed from the courthouse third floor, officials would move offices around and bring Social Services into the courthouse.
In that event, Mathers said the county would probably sell the building at 595 Breeze St., where Social Services now resides.
Gerber said she hopes to be ready to accept bids from architects for the study by the end of August. If that happens, the county would expect to have someone hired by November, with a study finalized by next spring.
After the study, building new courtrooms and reorganizing county departments is another matter, Mathers said. He added he doesn't expect the county to actually build courtrooms at the Safety Center any time soon.
"This is like a pipedream," he said. "Realistically, our budget is so tight right now that we probably won't be able to afford this for a long while. If it happens in the next five years, I'd be surprised."
It's not a waste to fund a feasibility study, though, Mathers said.
"Without a feasibility study, all roads are dead-ends anyway," he said. "We need this if we want to do anything and that is a good idea."
Mathers said he felt the county might not need to do anything, however. He said he was unsure whether upgrading courtroom security is necessary.
"I don't feel the need for security is near as important as the (court employees feel)," he said. "But, as long as they have money in grants to pay for this, then I don't have a problem with it."