Civic organizations have been denied use of Warren County Administrative Offices after regular business hours, a decision that has been met with disproval.
“We have had a lot of issues with multiple people having keys and we come back the next morning and find the building unlocked and people wandering around in the building,” said County Executive Jimmy Haley. “We’ve had homeless people sleeping downstairs and that sort of thing. To me, that’s a security issue. We have a lot of employees who come in early. They walk in at 6 a.m. and find somebody in the building or sleeping in the building. That’s a liability issue on the part of the county.”
Due to those issues, Haley has denied use of the building after hours to organizations that have used the Magnolia Room in previous years to hold events.
Commissioner Robert Hennessee prompted Haley’s comments during a county Building and Grounds Committee meeting.
“I’ve had people call me about this situation,” said Hennessee. “I don’t know if any of you guys have had anybody call you or not. I think this has been resolved, but there needs to be further discussions.”
Haley says the Early Voting Room could be used by those organizations.
“We are looking at adding an extra door so individuals cannot go upstairs and access the rest of the building,” said Haley.
The Early Voting Room is located at the back of the building. It has access to bathrooms.
“For people to be able to access fee offices or finance where there’s information that’s not privy to anybody that just walks in, we have to have security for those,” said Haley, citing more reasons why access to the building needs to be controlled. “We are looking at the safety and security of employees but also for our building security as well. We don’t need the door wide open or left open for anybody to have access at any hour.”
Security upgrades with keyless entry locks and cameras are also under consideration, says Haley.
Hennessee voiced approval for added security.
“After hours is an issue of real safety and concern for all of us,” he said. “We, certainly, don’t need a lot of people with a lot of keys coming into the building after hours because there is such sensitive documents everywhere in the building. That’s a real security issue with people who work there.”
Hennessee added, “The Early Voting Room is cordoned off from the main building and there are facilities there. Anyone who’s meeting after hours, or their meeting will go after hours, has accessibility to the Early Voting Room. I’ve spoke to the person who contacted me and they are very happy to have the Early Voting Room to use for their civic group.”
Organizations can contact the County Executive’s office at 473-2505 for more information on when the security upgrades will be in place and if the Early Voting Room is available for use.