Security cameras to be added at courthouse this summer

The Greene County courthouse will get the same “decorating” most public buildings have, with 13 security cameras slated to be installed this summer, but according to the owner of the company that will install it, the historic integrity of the building will be respected.

The county supervisors heard a presentation by Jerry Brown, a partner in SCI Communications Inc of Des Moines at their Feb. 18 meeting. Panasonic assistant engineer Adam Ring joined in the presentation via video link. At the request of the courthouse security committee, SCI Communications prepared a proposal to install 12 security cameras in the courthouse and a 13th in the Mahanay Bell Tower.

The system is wired and requires cabling. “My cabling guys know how to get around these old buildings and not destroy them,” Brown assured the supervisors. “We understand the aesthetics. We don’t want to be drilling holes all over a historic building.”

With that in mind, cabling planned by county IT coordinator Michelle Fields for installation in the new fiscal year will be done at the same time. Brown will also get the plans for the eventual new HVAC system from BBS to make sure his installation won’t interfere with that project.

The monitor for the cameras will be in the IT room in the courthouse, although the system could also be monitored from the Law Enforcement Center. There’s no plan at this time to have a dedicated person watching the monitors. Video recording will be motion activated, with the videos saved for up to 90 days.

According to county attorney Thomas Laehn, the system will be useful not only in the case of a criminal act like vandalism, but also in a civil liability case. If the county were to be sued over a trip-and-fall in the courthouse, for instance, a recording of the event could be helpful, Laehn said.

The project also includes keycard entries for the three exterior entrances. The public will see no changes; the doors will be open during regular business hours.
Cost of the hardware, software and installation is $31,155.66. There are no additional monthly expenses.

Laehn is making some changes to the sales contract offered by SCI Communications. He expects to have a final contract ready for board approval at the Feb. 24 meeting.
“In this day and age we need to keep making ourselves more secure,” board chair John Muir said.

Laehn established the courthouse security committee soon after taking office. The committee hired a consultant to survey the courthouse and make recommendations for cost-effective measures to improve the security of the employees who work there and the structure itself.

Minor changes have been made to interior doors; the security cameras are the first building-wide change.

During the open forum portion of the meeting, former Jefferson council member Larry Teeples and county engineer Wade Weiss talked with the board about the Highway 30 Coalition. Teeples has been active in the Coalition for decades and has remained active since leaving the city council.

Teeples’ interest in the Coalition has been to see Highway 30 widened to four lanes from Ogden west. He said Highway 30 is now a “priority highway” for the Department of Transportation. As funding becomes available, Highway 30 will be at the top of the list. However, the DOT is considering a “super two,” which has passing lanes at intervals, rather that a full four lanes.

Teeples said he’s visiting with every business along Highway 30 asking owners for letters of support for a four-lane road.

At Teeples’ encouragement, the supervisors agreed to renew the county’s membership in the Highway 30 Coalition, and to send a letter of support for the four-lane road. Weiss said local support is “a huge deal” as the DOT makes decisions on road projects, and said he plans to become more active with the Coalition than in recent years.
Letters of support can be sent to Highway 30 Coalition, PO Box 129, Mechanicsville, IA 52306.

Earlier in the meeting supervisor Rudolph reported the Freedom Rock committee met recently. The Fair Association has agreed to handle the committee’s treasury as a separate part of its budget going forward. Rudolph said the committee plans to place emblems from each branch of the military and more lighting at the rock.

Attorney Lane reported contract discussions with Diane Hinderaker of Greene/Boone County Probation Services. He’s drafting an addendum to the current contract that will remove the 20-person cap and extend the pilot project as a perpetual service. The cost to the county is not increasing from the $8,015 per year now paid. “I think it’s a good deal that we can lift the cap without additional cost,” Laehn said.

The non-profit agency provides supervision for offenders who are put on informal probation. The offenders pay an enrollment fee for the service.

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