Safety measures approved

Published 9:14 am Friday, January 14, 2011

WINDSOR – Magistrates in Bertie County will be safer in the coming weeks.

That will happen thanks to decisions made by the Bertie County Commissioner during their regular meeting Monday night.

Magistrate Arthur Watford appeared before the board asking for the office, from which they were moved after flooding from the remnants of Tropical Storm Nicole, to be renovated slightly to provide more safety for the magistrates.

“We are somewhat concerned about workplace safety,” he said.

The proposal would take the two rooms the magistrates use and modify them slightly by moving an internal wall and adding a sliding glass window between the two rooms. There will also be a new entrance to the back office from the hallway.

Danny Jernigan’s Custom Cabinets and Home Improvement provided a bid of $1,720 for the work and materials except the glass.

Bertie County Manager Zee Lamb reminded the board that currently the inner office of the magistrate’s suite has no outlet door and that is why the second door is being added.

The manager also said he and Watford had looked at bullet-proof glass, but the cost was prohibitive.

Michael Freeman of the ABC Board in Bertie County then informed Lamb there was bullet-proof glass in the old ABC Store located near Aulander. Lamb said he would work with Freeman and the board to see if that glass could be used.

Commissioner J. Wallace Perry asked if there was always a law enforcement officer present when a magistrate dealt with someone who had been arrested. Watford said there was, but because of the size of the room, the magistrate often had to move between the officer and arrestee to conduct his work.

Watford added that the inner office was so small as currently constructed that a chair had to be moved to even close the door.

“Will this help security,” Commissioner Norman M. Cherry Sr. asked.

Watford said it would.

Also included in the request from the magistrate’s office was a request for new furniture for the two rooms. That proposal came in at approximately $1,200.

“We have never asked for any kind of furniture,” Watford said. “We have always used whatever the maintenance men have been able to find in storage.”

Commissioner Rick Harrell asked if the furniture request had been submitted with last year’s budget request and Watford said it had not.

Cherry asked if the magistrate’s office could do without the new furniture and Watford said they had been for many years.

After more discussion, Cherry made a motion to approve the renovations and furniture request with Commissioner Charles Smith offering a second. It passed by a unanimous vote.