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Access restricted as locks changed at courthouse
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Concern over the number of keys and the unknown people who have them has led to a change in the locks at Warren County Courthouse. The Administrative Building on Locust Street could be next.
County Building and Grounds Committee chairman Carl E. Bouldin informed fellow members on Tuesday he had the locks changed without their approval out of concern for safety.
“I had the locks on the front door of the courthouse changed,” said Bouldin. “After talking with some people, I was told there were a lot, I mean a lot, of keys out there. About two weeks ago, I had the locks changed.”
The keys were unaccounted for because no records were kept about who was given a key and if that key was ever returned. Bouldin says he did discuss the situation with County Executive Herschel Wells and after the locks were changed, he had 25 keys prepared and a list made of individuals receiving one.
“I had 25 keys made,” Bouldin said. “I didn’t know we had that many people who need keys to the courthouse, but apparently there are. Now, we have a record of who has a key. There was no record of who had a key before. I reckon every lawyer in town had one.”
 Greg Bowdoin, county maintenance supervisor, confirmed that key-wielding lawyers were the culprits in the need to change the locks.
“I think so. I think that’s what really got this started. There were some lawyers going in on weekends,” said Bowdoin.
While the list of individuals receiving a new key was not presented to Building and Grounds Committee members, one identity was made public – McMinnville Fire Department.
Bouldin says the fire alarm recently went off two times at the courthouse and firefighters responded, without a way to get into the building.
“The fire department did not have a key,” said Bouldin. “They have one now. I made sure they got one.”
Neither fire alarm resulted in cause for concern. Both instances were attributed to complications in the alarm system and not an actual fire.
The same key situation exists at Warren County Administrative Offices, says Bowdoin.
“There are probably more keys out to this building than there were to the courthouse,” he said.
After a brief discussion, Bouldin said he was unsure if the Building and Grounds Committee has the authority to change locks.
“I don’t know if Building and Grounds is in charge of things like this, but if we are, we need to think about doing something,” he said.
Bouldin instructed members to think about the situation for a future discussion. On the committee and in attendance were commissioners Carolyn Miller, David Rhea, Kenny Roberts and Michael Shane Wilcher.