The Times West Virginian

Opinion

January 6, 2013

Some inconvenience small price to pay for increased security at county’s courthouse

Visitors to the Marion County Courthouse seem to accept a little inconvenience for increased security.

Planning to upgrade security at the Fairmont facility had been continuing for more than a year before action was fully implemented as 2013 began.

Eight of the 11 entrances have been closed, and new security measures are also in place.

A local incident, along with tragedies across the country, highlighted the need for heightened security.

On July 31, a man walked into the first floor lobby of the courthouse and pulled out a pair of what turned out to be toy handguns, pointing them in people’s faces while exclaiming that there was “a new sheriff in town.” No one was harmed, and the man was arrested a few days later, but it served as a reminder that someone intent on harming others could gain easy access to the building.

“We’ve always had a plan in place,” county manager Kris Cinalli said, “but I think ... that was kind of the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

There were also tragic incidents elsewhere in the country. In July, a shooter in Colorado killed 12 people and injured 58 others at a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Returns.” In December, a young man in Newtown, Conn., killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“You can only get away with saying it won’t happen in Marion County for so long,” Cinalli said. “In light of Sandy Hook, you’ve got people starting fires and shooting firefighters now — even though it’s a little bit of an inconvenience for the public, it’s also to protect them.

“We feel that it’s kind of a responsibility and a duty.

The wooden doors entering the second floor have been blocked off and are no longer in use. The only entrances now available are the first floor of the connected J. Harper Meredith Building, the Magistrate Court entrance to the J. Harper Meredith Building and the “bus stop” entrance on Jefferson Street.

The first-floor entrance on Adams Street is not Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant, so it was closed down.

In addition, the Marion County Sheriff’s Department is providing two deputies to man the courthouse in addition to the officers on duty in magistrate court. Deputy Roger Cunningham, the first new deputy, said that his job is to patrol the courthouse and keep an eye out for anything unusual.

The second deputy will be beginning his term in the courthouse in the near future.

Sheriff Joe Carpenter said that the arrangement is the result of an agreement between the sheriff’s department and the various elected officials to come up with a balance between security and convenience for courthouse patrons.

The two deputies in the courthouse will serve in addition to three deputies already stationed there as bailiffs. When they’re not in court, Carpenter said, the bailiffs will also patrol the courthouse.

“Their job is to walk around and be seen,” he said, and to provide assistance to people trying to find the courtrooms or various city and county offices located in the courthouse and J. Harper Meredith Building.

Carpenter said that having only two entrances to the courthouse (the Jefferson Street entrance and crossing over from the J. Harper Meredith Building and its two entrances) makes it a lot easier for law enforcement to know what’s going on in the building.

Now that the oil and gas boom in Marion County is beginning to wane, the courthouse is also restricting after-hours access to the building.

Cinalli said that he’s received “minimal” complaints on the additional security measures.

No security plan, obviously, is perfect.

“In law enforcement, we train in ‘what if’ scenarios,” Carpenter said. “We absolutely believe that (something bad) can happen here. It can happen anywhere, and that’s been proven over the last several years.”

Courthouse visitors and workers, though, are in a safer situation now than they were in the past. A little inconvenience is a small price to pay.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Too many taking too few steps to protect selves from skin cancer

    July 22, 2014

  • Distracted driving: It isn’t worth fine or a life

    Today marks the day that police agencies from six states are joining forces to crack down on one thing — distracted driving.
    And they will focus on that traffic violation for a solid week, with the stepped-up effort to curb distracted driving wrapping up on Saturday, July 26.

    July 20, 2014

  • COLUMN: Are we people watchers or people judgers?

    Let me tell you about my little friend Robby. Well, actually, it’s more about his family and especially his mom. I didn’t get her name. I heard Robby’s name quite a bit, though, during a trip home from Birmingham, Alabama.
    I noticed the family in the Birmingham airport immediately. They were just the kind of family you’d notice.

    July 20, 2014

  • Relish the rich bounty of state’s diverse, unique food traditions

    This week, a group of federal officials on a three-day culinary tour of the state visited the Greenbrier Valley to find out what most of us here already know — we have a rich food tradition in West Virginia.
    The group was made up of officials from the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

    July 18, 2014

  • Soup Opera in need of your support again this time of year

    It’s happening again.
    It usually always happens about this time each year. Sometimes it’s a little earlier and sometimes a little later.
    But Soup Opera executive director Shelia Tennant knows it will come — usually in July. And she’s never that surprised about it.

    July 17, 2014

  • County honors men who gave all in helping their community

    The next time you’re driving in the Rivesville area, you might notice new signs on two of the area’s bridges.
    Those signs, which bear the names of Alex Angelino and Denzil O. Lockard, were unveiled Saturday in honor of the men whose names they display, two men who died while serving their communities.
    The bridge on U.S. 19 over Paw Paw Creek was named to honor Lockard, while the bridge on U.S. 19 over Pharaoh Run Creek was named to honor Angelino. Lockard, a former Rivesville police chief, died in 1958 at the age of 48 while directing traffic. Angelino, a Rivesville firefighter, died at the age of 43 of a heart attack while fighting a fire in 1966.

    July 16, 2014

  • State must learn to keep costs down and perform more efficiently on less

    The West Virginia state government began its budget year last Tuesday with a small surplus of $40 million — less than 1 percent of its annual tax revenues — thanks only to dipping into its savings.
    Let’s not do that again.

    July 15, 2014

  • Long-range vision with transportation has been made to be thing of proud past

    Last week’s closure of Fairmont’s Fourth Street Bridge is a symbol of a problem that must be fixed.
    The United States should be proud of the vision its leaders once displayed to address the country’s transportation needs.
    Back in 1954, for example, President Dwight D. Eisenhower announced his goal of an interstate highway system — something that transformed the country.

    July 13, 2014

  • COLUMN: Who would leave animal in sweltering car?

    I was standing and debating between two brands of a product in a big box store when I heard a call over the intercom:
    “Will the owner of a green Cavalier with a dog inside please report to the lawn and garden center.”
    I shook my head. I hate seeing dogs in cars waiting while their owners shop. About five minutes later, there was another announcement over the intercom.

    July 13, 2014

  • We must take all weather emergency alerts seriously

    In a weather emergency, every second counts.
    Think back to the derecho that devastated the state just two years ago. The powerful wind storm caused nearly 700,000 people in West Virginia to lose electricity, some who didn’t have power restored for weeks. A state of emergency was declared, and all but two of the state’s 55 counties sustained some damage or loss of power.

    July 10, 2014

Featured Ads
NDN Politics
House Ads