Security issue with Justice Center elevator discussed by county board

By Charlie Warner
Argus News Editor

While it’s been about four months since county staff moved into the Houston County Justice Center, county employees and the county board are still working out a few minor bugs.

The county board discussed a security concern at last week’s board meeting that involved the Justice Center elevator.

The Justice Center includes the Sheriff’s Office and county jail facilities on the ground floor, various offices and the District Courtroom on the second floor and conference and meeting rooms in the basement.

From 4:30 p.m. until 8 a.m. the basement and second floor of the Justice Center are closed down. The stairway is locked and the elevator is only operable with a special pass card.

The security issue arose when public meetings began to be held in the basement level meeting rooms. Both the stairway and the elevator had to be put into operation to accommodate those attending the meetings. But unless someone was policing the area, persons could gain access to the second floor, which includes the County Attorney, Court Services and the Probation Department offices.

Board Chairman Jack Miller, who is a member of the CJC building committee informed the county board that the cost to change the security system that operates the elevator would be $3,695. He suggested that the county could pay for the change in the system through the CJC contingency fund, which still had money in it.

“This is something that should have been addressed before,” Commissioner Tom Bjerke said. “But we do need to have the building secured.”

Jail Administrator Mark Schiltz suggested that the system could be modified so that the elevator would only access the basement floor after hours when meetings were being held. The stairway to the second floor would still be locked and this would keep the second floor secured. When asked by the board if he felt that could be possible, Schiltz said he would have to check with the security company.

“I’m all for securing the building if it can be an easy fix,” Commissioner Justin Zmyewski said.

Schiltz left the meeting to contact the security company and returned later in the meeting. He reported that the security company indicated the system could be modified so that staff operating the dispatch/jail center could override the security system when persons needed to use the elevator for meetings in the basement level.

A motion by Bjerke and seconded by Commissioner Steve Schuldt to have the system modified was unanimously approved.

In other board action:

New mail server

Information Systems Director Andy Milde brought a price quote from Insight Public Sector of Tempe, AZ. for a new server to handle all of the county’s internet traffic.

Milde explained that the old server and software was scheduled to be replaced and the updates were in the 2012 budget.

The cost of the server was approximately $13,500 and the software to operate the system was $2,600. With tax the total was $17,391.

A motion by Bjreke and seconded by Schuldt to approve the purchase was unanimously approved.

Green Acres

County Assessor Tom Dybing informed the board that with the latest changes in the state’s Green Acres property tax laws, rural parcels that are woods and waste land must be placed into the Rural Preserve Program.

The deadline to have this completed is May 1, 2013. Dybing said it would be impossible to have all the acres in Houston County placed in Rural Preserve at one time. His department will be sending out informational letters to residents throughout the county in segments.

Property owners will be notified in various segments through the mail in alphabetical by zip codes. All property owners in the county will be contacted by the end of 2012. Those who have not responded by January of 2013 will be contacted a second time by the Assessor’s Office.

You can contact Charlie Warner at charlie.warner@ecm-inc.com

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