County steps up security

ESCANABA – The Delta County Board of Commissioners has decided to move forward in implementing many security measures at the Delta County Courthouse.

The board approved several safety and security improvements Tuesday that go into effect today.

The action was made following a security assessment of the facility earlier this year, and after discussion and recommendation of the new measures during a recent committee of the whole meeting.

“We had some folks look at the security in our building and there were several areas that need to be addressed, and that’s what we’re doing here,” explained Commissioner Dave Rivard during the meeting.

Some of the improvements will impact the public visiting the courthouse. Starting today, public entrance to the facility is limited to the one door in front of the building on Ludington Street and will be open from 7:15 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.; the side doors will be locked and labeled as ‘exit only’ doors at all times.

In addition, courtroom doors will be locked when not in use and only opened by court staff, proximity door locks and card readers will be expanded to additional offices and additional security cameras will be installed on the current system.

The county has also contacted the State of Michigan Department of Corrections about moving after-hours and basement use of the facility out of the courthouse. Employee training will be scheduled to allow for inclusion in the court calendars, while the county will explore the possibility of installing a security door at the bottom of the basement stairs right off the circuit courtroom. The board and county judges will continue on-going exploration of additional security measures.

The board unanimously approved the new security improvements.

“We checked with most of our staff and a lot of our supervisors and they’re in concurrence with the rules and regulations that we’d like to enforce,” said Rivard.

The board also approved new customer prices for equalization services to be more in line with actual costs and due to the additional information included in many of the reports. Many of the new prices set show a slight increase, while others are a decrease in price. The most notable price difference was a $150 increase for the current year assessment roll, from $350 to $500.

The board approved the new customer price list for equalization services by a vote of 4 to 1. Rivard, who expressed his support of only increasing costs slightly, voted in opposition.

In other business, the board:

– accepted a letter to place on file from the Delta Area Transit Authority informing them of two ballot proposals – one for residents of Escanaba Township, the other for Wells Township – for providing operational funding for public transportation services. The proposals will appear on the Aug. 6 ballot. Each proposal is to obtain a tax of up to .5 mil (50 cents on each $1,000 of state taxable value) on all property from 2013 to 2017.

adopted a resolution in support of May 2013 as Head Start Month.

approved waiving a permit fee for the city of Escanaba’s construction of a pavilion in the new Besse Park.

denied waiving a permit fee for the construction of a fire hall/voting precinct along County Road 420 in Escanaba Township. According to board chairman Tom Elegeert, in the past the board has not waived fees for larger projects like this one due to the extensive inspection that must be completed.