Sheriff Wilfong asks Commissioners to address safety concern in court house annex

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Photo by Beth Christian Broschart Tucker County Sheriff Brian Wilfong addresses Tucker County Commissioners Wednesday about locking the Tucker County Court House Annex stairwell in the lobby adjacent to the elevator. Wilfong said the measure would make sure those entering the annex would go through the newly installed scanner before accessing the upper floors of the building.

PARSONS – Tucker County Commissioners announced Wednesday the door to the steps in the bottom of the annex, next to the elevator, will be locked from now on for security reasons.

Commission President Lowell Moore said they stationed a court security officer near the elevator and said he reported when there is more than two people entering the facility, one or two will go through the scanner and others will skip the scanner and use the stairwell.
“Folks coming down the stairwell can still get out through the locked door,” Moore said. “I hate to do this, but without that, it’s not working how it should.”

Tucker County Sheriff B.K. Wilfong said the current situation is not safe.

“I have watched him (Terry Fluharty) on the camera when I am in court,” Wilfong said. “He will have two or three people come in and then more will come in and just fly up the steps. It isn’t right. If the door is locked they will have to stop and be run through the scanner. Then if they still want to use the steps instead of the elevator, he (Terry Fluharty) can let them up the steps.”

Commissioners voted unanimously to lock the door to the steps and said this would be on a trial basis to see how the measure works. The door will remain locked whether or not Fluharty is checking people coming into the Court House Annex.

Wilfong said if employees have family who want to come up the stairs, they can call the employee and have them come and meet them downstairs and let them come up through the stairs.

“There should just be one way in and that should be the elevator,” Wilfong said.
Moore spoke about automatic door openers for the three doors leading into the Tucker County Court House Annex He said they would allow ADA access with the individual pushing a button for the doors to automatically open.

“Each one of the doors will cost $3,600,” Moore said. “I don’t know how the Fire Marshal and the engineers missed having those in the original plans for the court house annex. They should have been there already but they aren’t.”

Moore said another issue with the court house annex doorways is ice.

“We have a quote from Resort Builders to make an 11’ x 12’ roof over that,” Moore said. “It will be the same roofing that is on the annex and have two posts encased in brick leftover from the building so the brick pillars and roofing will match. The cost is $9,896.”

Also during Wednesday’s meeting, Darla Stemple, Director of the Tucker County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management/911 said her office changed from Frontier to Atlantic Broadband. She said with all of the changes they will double their bandwidth while lowering their bill. She said the change allowed her to secure a more stable connection.
Stemple said she attended the West Virginia 911 Council Meeting and the West Virginia Emergency Managers Meeting.

“This year we are talking about drafting legislation to switch the county 911 tariffs from phone to electric,” Stemple said. “Marion County did some legwork and said in the last couple of years they went from 42,000 landlines down to 18,000. That is a big hit for Marion County.”

Stemple said Tucker County currently has a $1.50 fee on phone bills to 3,559 phone customers. She said if that were switched to electric and hit everybody in the county instead of just phone customers, there would be an increase of $56,430 annually with no fee changes. There are approximately 6,694 electric customers in Tucker County.
“They have met with the Governor’s Office and this is something they feel would be supported,” Stemple said. “That is where we are at. It would ease the burden and it would be fair throughout the county to hit everyone not just those with a phone.”

Stemple said if the matter passed, the $1.50 fee on landlines would be dropped and then placed on electric bills.

The Tucker County Commission meets on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month. The next meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. February 22 in the Tucker County Court House Courtroom.