Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

July 11, 2013

Committee forgoes entrance change

Bill Grimes Daily News
Effingham Daily News

---- — Effingham County officials won’t be changing access to the Government Center courts building after all.

Buildings & Grounds Committee members agreed to reject a bid from Barlow Lock & Security to revamp the north entrance at the courts building in an effort to make it less accessible. While the building has never been accessible to the public from that entrance, Resident Judge Kimberly Koester had expressed concern that the entrance was not as safe as it could be.

However, the committee decided against accepting the bid for $5,329 after hearing from Sheriff John Monnet, who is responsible for security at all county buildings.

“It’s just amazing to me that we are even talking about this,” Monnet said. “We’ve had this building for five years and nobody has been robbed, nor has anybody died from a heart attack from having to walk around the building because they couldn’t get in that door.”

Board Chairman Jim Niemann said Koester recently told him that the alterations were not a must.

“She said if it’s going to be a big deal, then we could just drop it,” Niemann said.

Also Wednesday, the committee agreed to use an existing Effingham city-owned light pole to display a flag at the corner of Fifth Street and Jefferson Avenue in front of the entrance to the courts building. Committee member Karen Luchtefeld said city officials have OK’d the county’s use of the pole, which includes a flag holder.

Niemann said he would likely contact U.S. Rep. John Shimkus’ office for a flag suitable to place on that pole.

The committee also discussed issues with witness stands in courtrooms at the courts building. Board member Joe Thoele said county employees considered widening steps to the existing stands before deciding to simply have all witnesses use the handicapped-accessible witness stands nearby.

Officials have said several witnesses in all four courtrooms have stumbled on their way to the witness stand because of the narrow steps.

Bill Grimes can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 132, or bill.grimes@effinghamdailynews.com.