Courthouse to close south entrance to public
In the wake of the fatal Michigan courthouse shooting the day before, Woodford Fiscal Court voted 7 to 0 Tuesday to spend $30,000 on a new metal detector at the sheriff's entrance and to close the south entrance. (Magistrate Gary Finnell, Dist. 3, was absent.) No timetable was discussed for the switch, but after the 40-minute meeting, Judge-Executive John Coyle said the move would be made in the near future, and signs will be posted around the courthouse to notify the public. Some of the $30,000 will pay for a part-time employee of the sheriff's department to monitor the metal detector. A $28,000 grant request, if successful, may defray nearly all of the first year's cost. Coyle said the court's safety committee met earlier in the day and suggested the change. An incident Monday in the courthouse annex (see page 1) in which an inmate being arraigned tipped over a table and had to be subdued was also a factor in the decision. Courthouse employees will still be able to use the south entrance with a key, and visitors can leave by other exits, too, using a push bar. Coyle acknowledged that the change will be a surprise to some people who've been accustomed to entering the courthouse elsewhere for more than 40 years. In response to a question by Magistrate Gerald Dotson (Dist. 5), Coyle said, "Regardless of whether we get the grant, I think we need to secure the courthouse more." County Attorney Alan George, who was in the annex when the Monday afternoon incident occurred and has an office on the third floor of the courthouse, endorsed the reform. "It would be a change to the public. I do think there will initially be some reaction that's not favorable or positive, but if you go anywhere else, that's the way it is, and that's way it will be in future years in every public office," George said. The move has been discussed in previous years. "Unfortunately, it's a changed world," George said. Tower work After nearly 46 years of sun, rain, snow and ice, the clock tower atop the courthouse has seen better days, and Coyle said he wants to do something about it. He took a straw poll of the court to see how many magistrates want the tower to be restored as it is before seeking bids. All voted yes, save for Magistrate Ken Reed (Dist. 4), who'd prefer it be torn down, in part to save money. Last September, Coyle told the court he'd received only one bid to renovate the clock tower and sent that company a rejection letter, and added that the renovation should include longer-lasting materials while maintaining the original look. Help for Clark County Emergency Management Director Drew Chandler said local members of the Bluegrass Emergency Response Team (BERT) helped in a search and rescue operation for two hikers injured in Clark County July 4. Long to retire Tuesday was the last meeting for retiring EMS Director Hunter Shewmaker - and the occasion for maintenance superintendent David Long to announce he would retire at the end of the month. "It's been a nice ride," Long said, before leaving early in the meeting. Long worked for the county for more than 36 years, first in the county police department, then the last 16 or so in the maintenance department. Moment of silence Coyle began the meeting by asking for a moment of silence to honor the seven law enforcement officers in Texas and Michigan who've been killed in the line of duty in the past week. At the end of the meeting, George praised the work of sheriff's deputies and others who subdued the upset inmate in the annex courtroom the day before. He said Deputy Larry Sutherland struck his head on a table during the altercation, but maintained his grip on the inmate.