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Preston commission applies for security upgrades

KINGWOOD — If the Preston County Commission receives the almost $21,000 it’s asking for, visitors to the courthouse will have a very different view.

Commissioners unanimously approved the courthouse security grant request, which had to be sent to Charleston on Wednesday, at their regular meeting Tuesday. 

“This year, we are requesting a total of $20,925,” county coordinator Joe Haugher said. “We have gone through the courthouse … We are also looking at reconfiguring the front security area, moving the desk around, which would also affect the court entrances to family court. Included in that will be materials for the reconfiguration. Switching the two doors back so that the one conference room will now be a lobby and what was the main entrance will be built in to become a smaller conference room.”

At a previous meeting, Hauger said the desk will be facing the entrance rather than hugging a wall as it is now, with the entrance to the side. The ballistic panels for doors inside the courthouse will make them not safe rooms, but safer rooms.

Also included in the request is money to reimburse the courthouse on its share of needed servers for storing digital recordings, ballistic panels for the front desk and for several doors in the building.

The commission is also attempting to get active-shooter training for courthouse employees besides bailiffs who have already been trained. The hope, Hauger said, is to have that training inside the building — not off-site. 

Commissioner Don Smith said that made sense to him. 

“They have to be familiar with their environment. They have to know what is available for them to defend themselves or to hide, or where the nearest escape route is,” Smith said.

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