---- — A pair of Effingham County sheriff's deputies told an Effingham County Board committee Thursday there's a security issue at the Government Center courts building.
Sgt. Thad Brockett and deputy Jeremy Richardson told the Tax & Finance Committee of the Whole Thursday that county employees are propping open the back door at the courts building on a regular basis now that the weather is getting warmer.
"We've come to the conclusion that we don't want anybody coming in or out of that door," Brockett said.
Richardson dumped a number of triangular wood pieces onto the committee table to illustrate what is being used to keep the door open. He said he confiscated one piece at an employee's desk.
"I view these as liabilities," Brockett said. "Anybody can walk in this door and have access to any part of the building.
"It's a matter of keeping everyone safe," he added.
Richardson suggested department heads in the courts building be apprised of the situation. He added that keeping the door open could create a serious safety concern.
"If we allow access to the back door, we might as well take out the metal detector (at the front door of the building)," he said.
The committee agreed to forward the deputies' concerns to the Buildings & Grounds Committee for further review.
Also Thursday, the committee recommended full board consideration of a four-year tax abatement for Southeastern Container in the Effingham industrial park. Board Chairman Jim Niemann said the incentives would enable Effingham to keep its Southeastern plant.
Niemann added the company employs 42 people locally and plans to add at least a dozen more employees in the near future.
Effingham City Economic Development Director Todd Hull said the 282,000-square-foot plant would pick up additional production from its sister plant in Beloit, Wis., that would be closing soon.
Hull said after the meeting the company pays about $10,000 a year in county property taxes. The Effingham City Council is expected to consider a similar measure at its meeting next week.
The company manufactures plastic bottles used by bottling companies throughout the Midwest.
In other action Thursday, the committee agreed to pass on several items related to the new Effingham County transportation system, including a purchase of service agreement for fiscal year 2014 and a budget for the program.
The committee also agreed to pass on a schedule of fees and hours for the county's animal control department. Animal Control Supervisor Brent Budde said the office would remain open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. But Budde said he planned to add hours from 7 to 10 a.m. Saturday for those who can't make it in weekdays.
The fees, which were discussed by the committee last month, include steep increases in dog and cat adoption fees, as well as imposition of an after-hours service fee and increase in the daily boarding fee.
Budde said the increased fees are needed to cover the increased costs of spaying and neutering adoptable pets.
The committee also agreed Thursday to recommend appointment of Karen Luchtefeld as the county board representative on the county Health Board, replacing Doug McCain.
Bill Grimes can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 132, or firstname.lastname@example.org.