Few would argue that the world is getting to be a much more dangerous place. Mass shootings and other violent crimes are a common occurrence and often take place close to home. When the West Virginia Supreme Court conducted a statewide audit of their facilities some 18 months ago, inadequacies were identified particularly in the magistrate and family court facilities housed in the Courthouse Annex on Main Street, Sutton.
Not only did the Supreme identify the problem areas, but they also provided grant funding to fix the issues. That work is now complete and beginning last Monday the Courthouse Annex became a secure facility complete with a security staff.
Assessor Edie Tincher and Magistrates David Singleton and Beth Smith collaborated to write the grant which brought nearly $50,000 to the county. Those funds provided new surveillance cameras in all the court rooms, hallways and waiting areas, distress buttons in the courtrooms and offices, a magnetic locking system from the front door, a metal detector and provisions for the security staff office.
Anyone entering the building during regular business hours will ring the buzzer, to the right of the main entrance to gain access. Those entering are also subject to search by the security staff. Former Sheriff Howard Carpenter, now a security officer at the Annex, along with Floyd Cunningham, says that visitors to the various courts and office in the building should leave unnecessary personal belongings in their vehicles. He also reminds area residents that weapons of any type are prohibited inside the facility even if the holder has a concealed carry permit.
Magistrate David Singleton was pleased to see the efforts come to fruition. “I regret that this type of restriction is necessary, but in our modern-day society precautions are necessary,” the Magistrate stated. “I also thank the County Commission for their assistance in updating the security system for our courts and offices.”
Commission President, Lisa Godwin echoed Singleton’s sentiments. “It is unfortunates these measures are necessary but with what is happening in today’s world safety has taken on a new meaning. I am grateful that the Supreme Court provided a 100% grant to fund these improvements, which only left the Commission to fund the staffing of the security station. We also regret any inconvenience to the public but unfortunately, we have had no choice but to take these measures,” she concluded.