BUCKHANNON – A representative from the Buckhannon-Upshur Retail Merchants Association asked the City of Buckhannon to assist in setting up an enhanced security network throughout downtown.
President of BURMA and owner of the Baxa Inn Jerry Henderson attended the March 25 Consolidated Public Works Board meeting to discuss adding security cameras and a call box to Main Street and the downtown area generally.
“One of our meetings started with discussing the safety of downtown, primarily after dark,” Henderson said. “One of the things that we were wondering was, ‘who has eyes on Main Street?’ When I found out that City Hall does not have a camera on Main Street, I then found out the county government does not have a camera on Main Street either.”
The Upshur County Courthouse and Courthouse Annex are equipped with security guards checking bags, an X-Ray machine than scans bags and several other protective measures thanks to the receipt of a recent courthouse improvement and security grant, according to previous stories.
However, Henderson said BURMA is primarily concerned with private businesses having the capacity to deter crime, so the organization worked together to determine which businesses on Main Street already had security cameras and which ones did not.
“Of the people who had cameras, four to five were verified by one of the employees at the courthouse, two were at Ameriprise, two were at Tateep, one was at Just Cuttin’ Up, two were at a private building, one was at Chase Bank, with a total of 13 and none of those show beyond the perimeter of their property outside,” Henderson said.
She said there were 13 spots that did not have cameras at all, adding that the owners of those locations would be open to adding them if the cost was affordable.
“Then, we had 18 others that said they would like to do it – they have the businesses in the stores, but they don’t own the property – and we were unable to get back to some of the property owners because we don’t know all the building owners. We did record them, which would give us a total of 44 potential eyes (potential security cameras) on Main Street,” Henderson said.
Henderson asked the Consolidated Board and city officials to consider their request and attend a future BURMA meeting. Typically, the Consolidated Public Works Board makes recommendations, which Buckhannon City Council then must officially consider for approval.
“We really believe that this comprehensive system would be able to help reduce crime, and it would certainly deter it, so we’re asking the city tonight not to do anything about it except set up a meeting with BURMA,” Henderson said. “Let’s talk about putting a camera on top of City Hall, the courthouse is already in negotiations with other property owners near them to expand cameras, so they are already in the process of ordering additional cameras.”
Henderson also suggested adding a call box somewhere in the middle of Main Street for emergencies.
“We have no place downtown for someone to run to get help,” Henderson, “and if you’re an outsider, you don’t even know to run to the police station. If you’re an outsider, you don’t really know where the hospital is. ‘People quite easily say, ‘oh Jerry, everybody’s carrying a cell phone,’ but first of all, no they don’t, secondly, they’re not always charged, and thirdly, in a panic, you don’t always think about your purse or what’s in your purse.”
Henderson said BURMA was essentially asking the city to help supplement the proposed addition of a network of security cameras and callbox so that it would be more affordable for business owners.
“We will do everything we can do,” Henderson said. “We went to the businesses, and we will re-approach them once we know how much the system would cost, [but] if there’s a way that the city could maybe make the cameras a little less expensive, we’d like to see that every business owner would be given an opportunity to buy in and help our downtown.”