County Commission addresses courthouse security

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By Kaitlin Fleming 

Messenger Correspondent

There was a full house at the Etowah County Commission meeting this past Tuesday. Employees from all over the county courthouse were present like Sheriff Todd Entrekin and Revenue Commissioner Linda Barrett Vaughn. 

The two main items on the agenda were the proposed security measures for the courthouse. 

The first proposed resolution would limit the number of entrances to just one. At that one entrance, the front entrance, there would be a security checkpoint with x-ray equipment. Also, there would be four more deputies added to the courthouse to monitor activity and work the new checkpoint. 

The second proposed resolution would add two part-time deputies to the courthouse, but not limiting the entrances nor adding an x-ray machine.

When the meeting was opened for comments by elected officials, Entrekin said the first resolution would only cost around $44,000-50,000 annually after the first year. 

“As the sheriff, I’ll protect this building to the best of my ability with what you give me,” said Entrekin. “I think the only way to secure this building is to lock it down.”

As of now, the county courthouse has seven entrances and a security camera system that cost the county $110,000 along with a new window at the Revenue Commission Office.

Barrett Vaughn voiced many of her concerns and the concerns of her 50 employees. Many of her employees took off work to attend the meeting. 

“It is not about Linda Barrett Vaughn, it is about my employees,” said Barrett Vaughn. “It is about the people that I serve in Etowah County having a safe place to conduct business. We work 40 plus hours a week.”

“We see it weekly,” said Barrett Vaughn. “My employees are here to show their support.”

Barrett Vaughn also spoke of the violence that has been shown on the news recently. She also spoke of the problems her employees dealt with involving irate clients at the commission office.

After comments from elected officials, the commissioners began the regular meeting. Once they reached the proposed resolution several commissioners 

Commissioner Joey Statum said that he was all for security but he didn’t think that locking the doors would do any good.

Once the commissioners discussed the resolution, President Larry Payne called on the secretary to do a roll call vote on the first proposed resolution. The vote was split. 

Commissioners Statum, Fuller and Payne voted no, while Commissioners Overstreet, Parker and Choate voted yes. With the vote being split, the resolution did not pass. 

The next resolution was for adding two more part-time deputies to the courthouse. Commissioner Carolyn Parker said that the two more deputies would not secure the courthouse.

“We spent $110,000 in cameras but it is pointless without someone to watch them,” said Parker. “The county commission has spent countless dollars on a piece of land but won’t spend pennies in comparison to protect our citizens.”

The second resolution passed with a four to two vote, with Commissioners Parker and Choate opposed. 

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