Bryan County Commissioners decided not to take down the wall being constructed in the county courthouse, against the pleas of more than 30 people in the County Commissioners meeting Monday morning.
Several voiced their concerns and asked that the wall be removed.
Each took turns approaching the commissioners to ask that the wall that will section off the south wing of the first floor in the courthouse be taken down.
The wall is being constructed to block off the south wing of the lobby which will house the election board offices.
Commissioners said that this will restrict access and provide security for the rest of the building. They informed the crowd that the wall will prevent people from entering the rest of the building during elections that may run before or after regular business hours when nobody else is in the building.
The also said that they will be restricting the building to one access point so they can put security at that access point for a safer building.
Monty Montgomery said this will be similar to what is being done at the state capital. He said that despite the inconvenience it may cause, this is what is safest.
Among the people requesting the wall be taken down were Special District Judge Tracy Sherrill, Court Clerk Sandy Stroud, attorney Pat Phelps and former City Council member Thomas Marcum. Stroud also brought with her a petition with more than 300 signatures in favor of tearing down the wall.
The comments remained similar, all touching on the thought that closing that exit may be dangerous in the case of an emergency where people need to get out of the building.
Concerns also focused on altering a building registered as a historic place. Many in attendance felt that by building this wall it would be changing the layout of the historic building.
Commissioner Jay Perry said that he did not feel they were in violation of preserving the historic building because they are not tearing down or changing the construction of the building itself.
“We are putting up a partition wall,” said Perry who called attention to the fact that the wall could be taken down therefor did not change the construction of the building.
The audience became heated when County Treasurer Nancy Conner stood up to speak and the commissioners would allow no more to speak after.
Conner said that she while she thought there would be some kind of public announcement or meeting, she does not disagree with the construction of the wall.
She pointed out that people were angry when the elevator was installed and when a set of stairs was taken out of the building as well. She said that the building has already been altered and sometimes the historic value had to be overlooked for safety.
After hearing what was said, Commissioner Tony Simmons made the motion to take down the wall and explore other options for securing the area.
His motion was not seconded. No action was taken on the matter so construction will continue. Commissioner Perry said that if a better plan was presented, the board would consider it.
Although several ideas were presented during the meeting, Perry said he did not feel any were better than the plan in place.
He said that while he respects the opinions he heard, nobody is held liable for the security of that building except the commissioners so they must do what they feel is safest.
Simmons said he hates that his motion was not seconded but they work as a team and he hopes someone can present a better plan before the wall is complete.
Following the meeting, Stroud said she was disappointed. She said she had met with Montgomery that previous Friday and he had told her that a good compromise would be to take down the wall and lock the south door.
Stroud said this is what she expected to happen and was embarrassed when the commissioners would not let her say this after Conner had spoken.