County officials working to secure sole courthouse entrance

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

In about a month, Curry County officials are hoping to have all but one entrance to the courthouse closed in the interest of improving security.

County Manager Lance Pyle said the target date for the change is Sept. 21.

August 18 the county commission voted to reduce courthouse traffic to one entrance.

Since that time, Pyle said there had been several planning meetings among county and court administrators working to plan the change.

“We are working out all of the logistics of securing the courthouse and going down to one entrance,” he said.

Currently the courthouse has three entrances: one on the east side of the building facing Main Street, one on the south facing Seventh Street and the third on the rear of the building facing Mitchell Street.

Under the commission’s approved plan, traffic will be funneled through the south entrance, which is also the only handicap-accessible entrance.

Metal detectors and X-ray equipment belonging to District Court will be relocated to the area inside the door so visitors can be screened as they enter.

Pyle said the county set aside $97,600 to cover security needs at the courthouse. Subtracting the salary going to a security officer, there remains about $60,000 in the budget to cover new equipment and other miscellaneous security needs, he said.

Chief District Judge Teddy Hartley has long argued security at the courthouse — a statutory responsibility of the county — is inadequate.

Hartley has asked for three additional sheriff’s deputies to provide security, a request the commission has said needs more review before a decision can be made.