Commissioners discuss courthouse security

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times
Master Deputy Russell Klepees of the Leavenworth County Sheriff’s Office operates a security station located at the south entrance of the Leavenworth County Courthouse. New security measures were implemented Wednesday at the courthouse.

When they met Wednesday, county commissioners discussed the new security measures in place at the Leavenworth County Courthouse.

Now only two entrances to the courthouse are open to the public. Each of the two entrances has a security station manned by a member of the Leavenworth County Sheriff’s Office. Visitors to the building are asked to walk through metal detectors, and bags are checked using an X-ray machines.

Weapons are not permitted in the building.

The Leavenworth County Courthouse, 300 Walnut St., houses most of the offices of the county government.

The new security measures were implemented Wednesday.

“It is the same screening that you go through when you go to the Justice Center,” County Administrator Mark Loughry said.

Located across the street from the courthouse, the Justice Center houses courtrooms, the Sheriff’s Office and other offices.

Loughry said security at the courthouse building probably had been discussed for many years. But it was discussed in earnest during the last three years.

He said commissioners budgeted money last year for staffing the security stations. He said metal detectors and X-ray machines were purchased using federal COVID-19 relief money.

Commission Chairman Mike Smith said it is a shame the security measures are necessary. But he said county officials are trying to make sure everybody is safe.

“To me it’s a big plus,” he said. “I know some people think it’s a waste of tax dollars. I don’t see safety as a waste of tax dollars personally.”

Commissioner Mike Stieben said it would be irresponsible not to provide security at the courthouse.

Stieben noted that even people who have permits to carry concealed firearms are not allowed to bring guns into the courthouse. But he said this conforms to what already was in place at the Justice Center.

The courthouse entrances that are open to the public are located on the south and northwest sides of the building. The northwest entrance is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In other business

The Leavenworth County Commission:

• Voted to sell a county-owned lot at 321 Olive St. to the city of Leavenworth for $1.

The county acquired the property in a 1998 tax sale.

Leavenworth City Manager Paul Kramer submitted a written request for county commissioners to consider donating the land to the city for a stormwater project.

“It’s just a vacant piece of land,” County Administrator Mark Loughry said.

He said the land has no development value for the county.

“They need it,” Commission Chairman Mike Smith said. “We don’t.”

• Accepted a bid from Norfolk Contracting, Norfolk, Nebraska, in the amount of $186,252 for engineering design services and construction of a replacement bridge in Kickapoo Township.

A grant from the Watershed Institute will reimburse the county for half of the cost of the project.

• Voted to allow various public works vehicles, which are considered surplus property, to be posted for sale on the Purple Wave online auction website. Other public works vehicles that are considered surplus property will be used for a trade-in for new bulldozers as part of a government lease package.

• Received a request from representatives from the Leavenworth High School DECA program for funding to help pay for a student trip.

Loughry said the county had $50,000 set aside that could have been used to fund requests from outside agencies. But that money recently was allocated for a new position in the County Attorney’s Office.