By Gary Nelson
Senior staff writer
The county's building and grounds committee approved a plan to divide one of the old courtrooms at the Cumberland County Justice Center in order to achieve more privacy for both Judicial Commissioners and visitors at the Justice Center who are using telephone video monitors while visiting jail inmates.
Previously, the committee discussed the privacy issue because members of public are unable to visit judicial commissioners in privacy on days while visitors are using the telephone video monitors, and vice versa.
Commissioners serving on the committee asked Cumberland County Maintenance Supervisor Steve Lewis to look at the old courtroom, which is shared by the two parties, and determine if it would be cheaper to move the monitors out into the lobby.
"It would be cheaper to build a hallway in the middle of the courtroom that would divide the room in half. It wouldn't mess with the heat and air that way and both sides of the room would still have heat and air and an entryway from the hallway. "Steve said he could get it done at a cost of about $4,000. On the right side of the hallway would be the Judicial Commissioners and on the left would be the monitors," Mike Harvel, building and grounds committee chairman and 7th District commissioner said.
Harvel said they have looked at other areas in the Justice Center to move the judicial commissioners and there was no where to move them without having to do some heavy modifications or remodeling.
"I guess we may as well forget trying to save that for a courtroom if we do this," said 9th Dsitrict Commissioner Carmin Lynch.
Harvel said he didn't see how it could have been saved due to the other modifications to the room that had already been made for the monitors.
"The sheriff was going to get back with us on a recommendation, but we haven't heard anything from him. I say we go ahead and do it and recommend it to budget," said 3rd District Commissioner Johnny Presley.
Presley's motion was supported by Terry Carter, 6th District commissioner, and it was unanimously approved.
In other areas, the committee approved that the Cumberland County Animal Shelter employees request a $10 fee for those who wish to surrender a dog to the animal shelter. The fee will go to help offset costs at the animal shelter.
The action was approved after a motion was made by Charles Seiber, 4th District commissioner. Joe Koester, 5th District commissioner, supported the motion. It was approved, but Lynch voted no.
Committee members and county commissioners Harry Sabine, 1st District and Robert Safdie, 2nd District, did not attend the meeting.