South door of Garfield County Courthouse to be locked until security reconfiguration is done |

South door of Garfield County Courthouse to be locked until security reconfiguration is done

Phillip Yates
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Garfield County commissioners on Monday voted to lock down the south side of the county courthouse after it remained open after Election Day. That action is expected soon.

The decision arose after 9th Judicial District judges and prosecutors and Sheriff Lou Vallario appeared before the commissioners on Monday to voice concerns about the security situation at the courthouse.

The building is currently undergoing a reconfiguration to make the building more secure for the 9th Judicial District’s judges and prosecutors by making areas where they work inaccessible to people who have not gone through a security check.

The fix would also allow residents to access the second floor through the south side courthouse entrance without having to go through security. The county assessor, treasurer and clerk and recorder’s offices are located on the second floor.

But some kinks in the reconfiguration of the courthouse have started to emerge. One issue that has caused several problems is the apparent programming of the elevator at the courthouse which does not allow people to access the floor without a special access card.

That has posed difficulties for people in wheelchairs and those delivering supplies to the courthouse, officials say.

Vallario said there has been a lack of communication about the scope of the courthouse security reconstruction project, and that people mistakenly assumed he was in charge of it. He said the miscommunication led the county to open the south doors before county officials were ready.

“We reverted back to the status quo until everything is in place,” Vallario said of having everyone go through security on the first floor.

Vallario said he has received several complaints about the situation at the courthouse, especially about the problem with the elevator.

Those swelling problems led Vallario to express ambivalence about providing security for the entire courthouse, rather than just providing security for judges and prosecutors and their court proceedings, he said.

“We have to come to some resolution if you want me to provide security in that building,” Vallario told commissioners.

District Attorney Martin Beeson said it was not worth a compromise of security to work out “any bugs.”

“If something tragic happens, that is a cost to me that is unacceptable,” Beeson said. “We deal in that building with the criminal element. There are some very angry people, and people who can get out of control.”

Commissioner Tresi Houpt said the county should make all the necessary improvements to the courthouse and make sure everything is online before opening the south side entrance to let area residents access the second floor of the courthouse without having to go through security.

The commissioners then voted to lock the courthouse south entrance and to name Dale Hancock, director of general services for the county, to be the courthouse security project manager.

Contact Phillip Yates: 384-9117

Post Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

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