Entrance change could make Missaukee Courthouse safer

Missaukee County Commissioners are considering a proposal to close one of the entrances to the courthouse.

LAKE CITY — Missaukee County needs to lose an entrance to the courthouse, but which one? And who decides? Using what criteria?

That's a question commissioners will ponder in the coming days.

“We have to decide which entrance we’re going to keep and which ones we’re going to close," Missaukee County Administrator Precia Garland told commissioners during the county board of commissioners' finance committee meeting Wednesday.

Garland proposed that the county consult with an architect or engineer to be sure they make the best choice.

But Commissioner Hubert Zuiderveen was skeptical of hiring more "educated people" to tell commissioners things they already know, as he put it.

"We got enough smart people to figure that out," he said. "Let's come up with a solution amongst us."

As Garland laid out for commissioners, wheelchair accessibility and future security needs, such as a screening area, may mean that one entrance is a better option than the other—that's why she suggested talking with a professional.

Two separate Missaukee County committiees, a safety committee and a committee specifically for courthouse safety, reached the common conclusion that Missaukee County should reduce the number of entrances to the building so county workers can keep better tabs on where threats might come from.

The single-entrance courthouse is a tenet from a Michigan Supreme Court security specialist's report, Garland told county commissioners in a memo.

The courthouse has several entrances; two are in contention to be the future "main entrances" to the building—the other one will become exit-only.

The existing main entrance on South Canal Street would need work to become wheelchair accessible, while the parking lot entrance that is already accessible might not have enough space to accommodate future security needs, like the aforementioned screening area, Garland explained.

"We're all kind of speculating," she said. An architecht or engineer, which she said might offer a consultation for a few hundred dollars, would be able to tell them what would make the most sense.

For commissioner Star Hughston, money was a top concern.

"The most sense might cost the most, too," Hughston said.

Commissioners may send the matter to another committee before making a decision.

Cadillac News