Meeting in-person for the first time in nearly two months, pictured front left behind plexiglass for safety reasons, are commissioner Sam Nolte, commissioner Kristie Tenney and commission president Terry Cutright.

Commission approves grant application that would pay for X-ray machines at courthouse annex entrance

BUCKHANNON – The Upshur County Commission on Thursday approved a grant application requesting $71,289 that would, among other items, pay for the purchase of an X-ray machine that would be installed at the entrance of the Upshur County Courthouse annex.

The court security grant application was approved during the May 28 Upshur County Commission meeting, which took place in-person for the first time in weeks. If the grant is approved, the Courthouse Security Board intends to use the money to purchase an X-ray machine, three emergency exit-only alarms and card readers, six cameras with supporting equipment, four camera monitors with supporting equipment and one additional panic bar.

The grant is available through the West Virginia Division of Justice and Community Services’ Court Security Fund grant program.

Chairman of the Courthouse Security Board and Upshur County Magistrate Mike Coffman said purchasing this equipment has been part of the security upgrade plan from the start.

“The goal was to get the front door security installed, which we have gotten, the officers, and then to add the metal detectors. We actually had the metal detectors for each courtroom already (circuit court, magistrate court and family court), so we’ve just moved those downstairs, instead of the courtroom doors,” Coffman said. “We have that equipment now, so we’re requesting the X-ray machine, which you see in other courthouses and federal court buildings.”

The cameras will allow for more panning and zooming in certain areas that do not have enough coverage, and the panic bar will help ensure people go in and out using the front doors. The X-ray machine will be located in the annex entrance to the courthouse because the majority of people with business at the courthouse go through that entrance.

Coffman said people may only use the entrance at the main building to go to the County Clerk’s office.

“We’re hoping the grant will be approved by July 1, and the funds would be available then,” Coffman said. “Of course, we’d have to order the equipment, so we’re looking at potentially fall by the time we get the equipment, get it delivered and the employees would have to be trained on the X-ray machine, and then the cameras and the panic bars would have to be installed.”

The new courthouse security measures have been in the works for several years, but the officers at the entrances, metal detectors and searching visitor’s bags were implemented in October 2019.

“The officers are doing great, and I think everybody’s very appreciative here, and we haven’t heard any complaints from the public, so we feel that it’s working very well,” Coffman said.

“They’ve gotten quite a bit of contraband off people – everything from guns, knives to they’ve found people trying to smuggle urine in for drug testing, so it’s very effective. Not only does it protect employees, but it protects the public who come in to do business at the courthouse. We appreciate everybody’s understanding and compliance – we know it takes a couple extra minutes to get in, but we appreciate it.”

A document provided by Coffman said officers have found 102 guns, 1,242 knives, 58 pepper sprays, nine tasers and eight illegal or dangerous items since the measures started in October.

“You get the item back unless it’s something illegal,” Coffman said. “They lock the item in a lockbox, you get a tag that matches the number on the lockbox, and when your business is done at the courthouse, then you come back and give them your tag with the number, and you get that item returned.”

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