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County steps up security at courthouse

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By The Staff

Members of the Fayette County Board learned first-hand on Tuesday night of the county sheriff's efforts to step up security at the county courthouse.

As they entered the courthouse for their regular monthly meeting, board members were required like everyone else attending that meeting to pass through the county's metal detector.

As he gave his report to the board, Sheriff Aaron Lay explained that he was planning to upgrade security measures, and that an incident in Kirkwood, Mo., spurred him to move quickly on those actions.

Early last week, a Kirkwood man who had had several run-ins with officials there fatally shot two police officers and three city officials before being fatally wounded by police. Four of the five people killed by that man were shot as they attended a city council meeting.

Lay told board members that everyone except police officers and other individuals charged with providing security must now go through the metal detector and be subjected to other reasonable search measures.

I thought that it was time to step it (security) up, Lay said.

I hope its not too inconvenient for the price of safety, he said, explaining that the security measures will be taken anytime the courthouse is open.

Also at Tuesdays meeting:

The board voted 8-3-1 to approve the countys working interest on oil rights on the Homan Lease to Odis Petroleum for $4,300.

Board Chairman Steve Knebel explained that Odis had discovered that the county held the rights on that lease, and that it wants to use those rights to dispose of excess salt water.

Board member Dean Bernhardt who voted along with Glen Daniels and Loy Staff to oppose the action said he didnt want to OK the action, only to find out later that the company was generating revenue as a result of that lease.

Knebel and States Attorney Stephen Friedel explained that the lease is on a non-working site, and that the county is likely to incur considerable expenses due to open wellheads at that location and Environmental Protection Agency guidelines.

We think its a fair offer, or we would not have brought it to you (for a vote), Knebel said. Thats not a lot of money, but it is something for something thats just sitting there and something that represents a liability to us.

Board member Troy Pattillo abstained on the vote because a relative is associated with Odis Petroleum.

The board voted to submit on behalf of Fayette Water Co. a $350,000 Illinois Community Development Assistance Program grant application.

Fayette Water wants to use those state grant funds to help fund its hookup with the Gateway Regional Water Co. The project includes a system interconnection and the installation of a 300-gallon-per-minute pumping station.

The board agreed to change the employee mileage reimbursement rate from 50 cents per mile to 50 cents per mile.

The board upped the reimbursement rate several months ago to mirror the Internal Revenue Service. It didnt appear to be a good move, said Lee Schaal, chairman of the boards finance committee. Its been a bookkeeping nightmare.

Dropping the half-cent will make it a lot easier to keep track of, and it will result in a minimal reimbursement loss to employees, he said.

The board approved the low bid of $201,348 from Depew and Owen Builders of Centralia for the replacement of a bridge three miles southwest of Herrick in Ramsey Township.