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Renville County examines courthouse security

Tom Cherveny / Tribune Renville County is looking at how it can improve security for the district court system located in the courthouse building in Olivia. Originally built in 1902, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the county wants to preserve its historic attributes in any security upgrade.

OLIVIA — Dedicated in 1902, the Renville County Courthouse remains one of the most prominent structures in the county.

The Olivia building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and reputed for its classic architecture known as City Beautiful.

Its four ground-level entrances provide access to the county's constitutional offices, all of which are located around an open, three-story rotunda. An open stairway, enclosed spiral stairway, and an elevator lead to the district court and two courtrooms on the upper level, where staff work at an open service window and counter.

All of which are now coming under the scrutiny of the trained eye of a U.S. marshal, who was scheduled to tour the courthouse on Wednesday.

If the County Board of Commissioners approves a contract with the firm of Klein McCarthy next Tuesday, the eyes of the company's architects will also take a look at all of this with same goal: Improve security in the structure while preserving its historic attributes.

County Administrator Lisa Herges told the County Board of Commissioners that the architectural firm has developed a proposal to conduct a preliminary analysis of the security issues for $2,500, plus reimbursement for travel and related costs. Its fees for a security upgrade project would be determined by the scope of the project.

The commissioners previously appointed a courthouse security working group to address the security concerns in the courthouse. Its members include representatives from the sheriff's office, court services and administration.

The four entrances, none of which is staffed, represents one of the immediate concerns cited by the working group. The group has also expressed concerns about an inadequate video surveillance system in the building, the open service window and counter, and the reliance on keys rather than an electronic access system.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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