Plans advance to use Sears kit house as violent crime task force center

Prosecuting attorney Patrick Via approached the County Commission with a request to begin cleaning and painting the interior of the Sears Kit House adjacent to the courthouse in preparation for its occupancy by the multi jurisdiction violent crime task force. A few months ago Via had asked the Commission to allow the task force to make use of the building as a central command point. But not before the local garden clubs had asked to use the structure as an historic display site for the Home and Garden show set annually in late spring. At that time Via had said he was willing to delay all clearing and cleaning until after the Garden Show event had passed.

In the intervening months, it appears the garden clubs have withdrawn their bid to use the Sears Kit house. The prosecutor asked for permission to move up the timetable even though the task force is not yet ready for installation.

Commission president Karen Lobban first ascertained that the prosecuting attorney had no plans to change the exterior, which she described as having “priceless” historic value. Improvements and replacements of the roof, windows and exterior painting are on track with grant funding for those upgrades, she said. Commissioner Mike McClung suggested making the buildingADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible.

“This proposal [of the task force] will make very good use of the building,” Via declared. He said he and Sheriff Jan Cahill have been working on the task force project “going back four years” when Cahill was still captain with the state police. He asserted that no structural nor intrusive work will be done on the historic structure. The Commission moved to approved the advanced timetable.

Sheriff Cahill was also at the morning meeting with a request for financial assistance to make needed improvements to the “Old Jail.” In making it more ADA accessible, he proposed having a ramp constructed and new metal entry doors added with panic bars and push buttons convenient for wheelchair-bound access. The cost he estimated would be below the bidding amount at “under $15,000.” Cahill said the department would be able to carry half of the costs. He was asking the Commission to assist with approximately $7,000. The Commission approved the request for funding and will research the best applicable funding source.

Cahill also received approval to have the Board of Education release funding set aside for the Sheriffs Department to purchase and outfit a police vehicle.

In other business:

• The County Courthouse will be closed for a full day on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.

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