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Lee County Still Considering Building Security

The North Lee County Courthouse could receive a security upgrade under a proposal before the county's safety committee.

The multiple entrances for each of Lee County's three most-frequented public buildings are considered potential safety threats due to the number of people using them each day. 

A plan to better secure them is now under consideration by the county, but it could be a couple weeks before it comes up for a vote.

The Board of Supervisors referred a proposal from the maintenance department to the county's safety committee, which includes two supervisors, Don Hunold and Matt Pflug. Pflug said the committee will consider the cost versus the effectiveness.

"We'll spend what we need to spend," said Pflug. "But we also want to make sure we are doing it in a way that we are not just buying a Cadillac plan."

The proposal calls for additional hardware and panic bars to be added to the public entrances at the North and South Lee County Courthouses and at the North Lee County Office Building in Fort Madison.

Matt Mohrfeld with Mohrfeld Electric, which submitted the lone bid to do the work, said the hardware would allow the doors to lock at the press of a button, keeping a potential threat outside the building while also letting people inside leave without restriction.

The proposal also calls for the installation of exterior video cameras and keyless entry systems for many of the interior doors.

Mohrfeld told the board this would allow the county to simply cancel an employee's entrance code following a retirement, resignation or termination instead of trying to get a key back.

The South Lee County Courthouse

Pflug said all of this could lead to there being just one public entrance at each of the three buildings. "I think that is going to have to be discussed," said Pflug. "I think, to me, just on the surface, that it makes sense to me that we don't have a lot of ways to get into these buildings."

Supervisor Rick Larkin said he was worried about the proposal being stuck in committee for an extended period of time since the County Board has a tendency to "talk things to death."  So he asked for it to be returned for a full vote by Tuesday, April 28.  

Pflug is confident that can be accomplished.  He said not only will the committee review the plan, but it will start working to secure buy-in from county employees.

"When we say that you are going to have to lock this door and you have to use a key or a keypad to get through, that's what it means," said Pflug. "I think we have been lackadaisical in that area."

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.