Commission gives sheriff funds for courthouse security

Published 3:47 pm Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Chilton County Commission voted on Monday to amend the sheriff’s budget by $56,000 to pay for security at the front entrance of the courthouse.

Commissioners already budgeted $48,000 from the commission’s General Fund to the sheriff’s budget and will add an additional $8,000 to the sheriff’s budget to cover the cost.

Commissioners previously asked Sheriff John Shearon to look into options for the county to man the front entrance to the courthouse as opposed to the Clanton Police Department, which currently mans the front doors.

The commission has contracted with the Clanton Police Department since the summer of 2014 for two off-duty police officers to man the front entrance to the courthouse for $15 an hour, until a permanent solution could be found.

Commissioners have repeatedly expressed a goal of trying to have deputies from the sheriff’s department man the doors since the courthouse is a county-owned building, but wanted to wait until Shearon had enough time to adjust to his role as newly-elected sheriff.

Several commissioners expressed concern that the commission voted on the measure for courthouse security in 2014.

“If you remember, our motion was to temporarily contract with the Clanton Police Department,” commissioner Joseph Parnell said.

When commissioners voted in 2014 to contract with CPD, they planned to form a concrete plan for who was going to man the front entrance of the courthouse.

The contract between the commission and the Clanton Police Department was extended until March for Shearon to come up with options for the sheriff’s department to man the doors.

Shearon addressed the commission on Monday with some suggestions of what he thought might be best for the commission to consider.

Shearon suggested an option of having two full-time deputies and one part-time deputy to man the front entrance.

Commissioners Greg Moore, Heedy Hayes, Shannon Welch, Allen Caton and Joseph Parnell voted in favor of placing $56,000 in the salary item of the sheriff’s budget from the commission’s budget to cover the cost of courthouse security effective March 1.

Commissioner Bobby Agee abstained due to lack of information, and commissioner Joe Headley opposed.

Commissioners also voted to continue to contract with the Jemison Police Department for security at Minooka Park until the end of the current fiscal year.

Commissioner Joseph Parnell brought up the discussion on Monday after meeting with Shearon and discussing the possibility of the sheriff’s department taking over security at the park.

“I spoke with the sheriff and at this point he has a full plate,” Parnell said. “I think we should contract with the Jemison Police Department through the end of the fiscal year.”

The last contract between the commission and the JPD ended in December 2014. Commissioners voted in favor to continue the contract with the JPD until the end of the fiscal year with Welch abstaining from the vote.

For more from Monday’s meeting, check a future edition of The Clanton Advertiser.