By Alex Bridges
FRONT ROYAL - Warren County officials plan to upgrade security at its government center after incidents sparked concern for staff safety.
The Board of Supervisors voiced support during a work session this week for the county to spend approximately $6,100 on security upgrades at the center at 220 N. Commerce St.
County Administrator Douglas Stanley told the board Tuesday that funding for the upgrades exists in the current fiscal budget. However, the board would need to wait until it works on the next fiscal year's budget to consider funding a more robust option estimated to cost more than $41,100.
"I really think from an administrative standpoint, at a minimum we need to do option 1 because we're too open right now," Stanley said.
The board also heard from Jodi Spittler, human resources manager, about the need for the enhancements.
"With all the things you hear about in the news and the things we've experienced here in the government center, we decided some time ago that we needed to look at critical incident management and updating security issues," Spittler said.
Work on the security project actually began before the county started renovations to the administration and fire and rescue areas. As Stanley explained in an email later that day, most security upgrades would be installed outside the renovated area.
"We've had issues," Spitter told the board. "We've had a fist being put through the building inspections suite door, hitting the wall ... We've had people go across the counter."
Sheriff Daniel T. McEathron and his office has created a crisis management plan and agreed to provide training to county staff, Spittler said. Training could include a mock, active-shooter incidents and learning the building exits.
Spittler and county Project Manager Jeffrey Hayes began looking at prices for security upgrades to the government center. The basic option presented to the board calls for the installation of keypad entry systems at 10 doors and buzzers at five doors mostly in the internal offices, Spittler explained. Some doors used by staff often remain unlocked during the day, she said.
The offices of the Commissioner of the Revenue and Treasurer already use buzzers on doors.
A long-term solution calls for the installation of card-swipe locks at 34 doors that the county could expand to 40 doors, at an estimated cost of $41,101, Spittler explained.
"It's the Chevy and the Cadillac," Stanley said. "Certainly I think the keycard system gives you a lot more options."
The $41,101 estimated price for the second option includes more than $2,000 in electrical upgrades and the $3,000 computer system. The Public Safety Building already uses a card system. The second option also could include the installation of panic buttons that, when used, causes the entire building to lock down, Hayes said.
Stanley said the second option also would allow the county to include the school administrative offices as part of the keycard system.
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or email@example.com