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Hefty Price Tag for Lee County Security

The North Lee County Courthouse in Fort Madison would get new door knobs, security glass, and a new door lock system under the proposed security upgrades

Lee County might have to dig deep to come up with the money needed for security upgrades to four county-owned buildings, including the courthouses in Keokuk and Fort Madison. That's because the recommendations from the county's Courthouse Security Committee could cost more than $100,000.
The committee met for several weeks before presenting its recommendations to the Lee County Board of Supervisors this week. Chairman Ron Fedler said he's grateful for the work of the group of county employees, adding the group has given supervisors plenty to consider.

"It's not only safety of employees," said Fedler. "A lot of Lee County citizens come through here to do business and they should be able to come and be fairly confident that nothing will happen."

The recommendations call for the installation of protective glass in two buildings, the closing of entrances in two buildings, and the installation of security cameras at one.  But the most costly suggestion is the hiring of a security guard for the North Lee County Office Building in Fort Madison.

The committee put the potential cost at anywhere from $40,000 (private firm) to $110,000 (sheriff employee) for one individual at the main entrance.  Fedler said while hiring a security guard is potentially expensive, it must be considered.

"Is the security officer the best scenario or (are) the other things (like) cameras," said Fedler.  "Like I stated, a camera can catch (something happening) on film, but (it) won't stop it."

The South Lee County Courthouse in Keokuk would get new security glass, additional cameras, and a new video station among other upgrades.

There is no timeline in place as to when the supervisors could vote on the recommendations.  The new fiscal year begins in three weeks and there does not appear any money in the budget for the recommendations.

Fedler said it is not just about money.  He said it's also about how the changes impact employees.

"We don't want to make it too inconvenient for them and we don't want to make it too inconvenient for the public," said Fedler.  "We need to find that balance between inconvenience and safety.”

Lee County has added courtroom security guards in both the North and South Lee County Courthouses.

Initial Estimates

South Lee County Courthouse

  • Close Blondeau Street Entrance (No Cost)
  • Install Video Station on Handicapped Accessible Entrance ($1,975)
  • County Phones on Second & Third Floors ($450 + annual service)
  • Glass in Three Service Windows ($1,798)
  • Two Cameras for the Second Floor and One Outdoor Camera ($2,050)

North Lee County Courthouse

  • Change Door Knobs ($200)
  • Glass in Two Front Service Windows ($1,280)
  • Panic Locks for Doors ($4,775)

North Lee County Office Building

  • Close East Door to Public (No Cost)
  • Move Handicapped Accessible Entrance to Front Door ($1,000)
  • Security Guard ($40,000 to $110,000)

North Lee County Attorney's Office

  • Phone System with Pager ($3,949)
Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.