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Jury says it’s willing to return for checkup

[10/22/04]This week’s grand jury said it was concerned enough about lack of action on predecessors’ recommendations to offer to reconvene later to follow up.

Grand jurors completed their four days of work Thursday, focusing much of their recommendation on what they said were matters of courthouse maintenance and safety that had not been addressed despite, in some cases, recommendations from two grand juries beginning five months ago.

“It bothers us that this very important building is not being put high on a priority list,” one grand juror commented afterward.

In the report they delivered to Judge Isadore Patrick, jurors said they would like to reconvene in about 30 days to follow up on recommendations, several of which repeated those of predecessors.

Patrick proposed that he monitor progress on the jurors’ behalf over the next 30 days and offered to keep them informed if they would call his office. Supervisors take grand jury recommendations seriously, Patrick assured them.

“Especially this one, I know they’re going to” take seriously, since it included the request to return to the courthouse to perform follow-up monitoring outside the time of about four days that grand juries here are usually kept in session.

“We trust you,” one of the jurors replied to the judge.

The panel repeated some recommendations that were first made in the report delivered by the grand jury that met beginning May 3.

It included a trained building inspector who provided a detailed, seven-page report of findings and recommendations for the county courthouse. Many of those recommendations were also repeated by the panel that met beginning July 19.

Recommendations on the courthouse were:

Water damage from the roof and/or air conditioning problems seems to be an ongoing problem and is in need of serious attention.

General housekeeping is done poorly. Dust and debris noted in corners of rooms, stairs, etc. Bathrooms lack attention.

Consideration needs to be made to temporarily move offices while extensive repairs are being done. The tax assessor’s office was cited as an example.

Apply some type of nonslip coating to the main stairwell.

Progress of the recommendations for the building should be reported by the Board of Supervisors to the next grand jury.

The grand jury was the fourth and last scheduled to meet this year in Warren County. The next grand jury is scheduled to meet Jan. 24.

Another grand juror said afterward that the panel wanted the courthouse to be clean so that citizens could be proud of it.

“It represents us,” the juror said of the public building.

The grand jury also challenged supervisors to respond to problems or complaints within 48 hours, to put in place a prioritized maintenance-and-repair plan, to develop and post a disaster-contingency plan for each building, and to institute, for safety and security, a picture-identification-card system for all courthouse employees.

The panel also recommended consideration of instituting pay scales to reflect training and education, performing yearly evaluations in accordance with merit increases, increasing educational opportunities, salary increases for deputies, pay raises for jailers “due to the responsibility and danger a jailer faces on a daily basis,” and active recruitment of female officers.