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Plan to open courtrooms in the works

Now that the public is allowed back into the courthouse, the discussion will continue to be about the which methods are both effective and have the public’s safety in mind.

Despite a list of rules and procedures that have been implemented in conjunction with the courthouse’s reopening, one thing still being debated is the process of checking people’s temperatures at the entrance doors.

The first thought raised by the Commission during its meeting on May 12 was to have Sheriff’s Office deputies do the temperature readings since they are already in place at the courthouse entrance doing security checks.

However, Sheriff John Shearon said he would be against his deputies being in charge of such tasks. He clarified that he was not against the idea of performing the temperature checks.

Shearon stated that he believed if officers had to perform the temperature checks it would create a distraction and prohibit them from fulfilling their duties of keeping people in the courthouse safe from dangerous intruders.

The Commission listened to his point of view and will factor it in while they resume to find the best solution on the table.

District Judge Chris Speaks spoke to the Commission about the plan to open the courtrooms back up.

According to Speaks, the talk at the moment is to start holding court once again on May 18.

Juvenile and probable cause hearings have continued to take place despite the courthouse being closed in recent weeks.

Under the courthouse’s new social distancing rules, Courtroom No. 1 will be able to hold 33 people, while Courtroom No. 2 will hold 12 and the Commission meeting room can hold 10.

In other news from the meeting:

  • A resolution was passed to increase the Sheriff Office’s budget by $150,000 to continue safety improvements to the county jail. Commissioner Joe Headley opposed the resolution.
  • $69,500 was approved to be paid to Cellcom for installation of security cameras in the jail. The work was completed the first week of May.
  • The Commission granted Sheriff Shearon’s request to take about $26,000 from the jail maintenance budget to rebuild a gate at the jail.
  • The resignation of operator Tim Giles with the road department was accepted.
  • The Commission approved County Engineer Tony Wearren’s request to advertise and hire a laborer with the road department.
  • The Commission approved to pay its bills.