MILLERSBURG -- A year after initiating dialogue on the need to upgrade the elevator in the courthouse, the Holmes County commissioners have taken the first step in bringing that plan to fruition.
After receiving just two bids for the project, the commissioners agreed to partner with Schindler Elevator Corp. for improvements to the elevator. In doing so, they agreed to pay Schindler $160,211 for the major modernization and $8,750 for the cab interior improvements. Both the base and alternative bids were lower than those submitted by Otis Elevator, which came in at $196,721 and $16,500, respectively.
Construction is set to begin on July 1 and should be completed by Sept. 30, according to the commissioners, who will continue to meet with courthouse officials and law enforcement to discuss how operations will be impacted by the unavailability of the elevator.
The elevator, which has been in place for 40 years, has not once been upgraded, according to the commissioners, who note it has had some major issues, including several occasions on which riders became trapped on the elevator when it unexpectedly stopped between floors.
Previously Common Pleas Judge Robert Rinfret, told the commissioners that he, Clerk of Courts Ronda Steimel, Judge Thomas Lee and representatives of their various offices have discussed the matter and how they can do business with anyone in need of service but are unable to use the stairs to the second or third floors. In most cases, that can be accommodated by moving some services to and meeting with customers on the first floor. Court hearings can be shifted to the first-floor municipal courtroom when the presence of inmates, currently incarcerated in the Holmes County Jail, is required. To force them to use the stairs while handcuffed and in leg shackles would present a hazard to the inmate and transport officers.
The only circumstance where business could not be shifted to the lower level, would be the case of a jury trial. That's because the municipal courtroom only has seating for eight jurors; felony cases require 12 jurors. In that case, anyone unable to use the stairs could be excused from jury duty and arrangements would be made to ensure safe movement of an incarcerated inmate to the courtroom.
Reporter Christine Pratt can be reached at 330-674-5676 or firstname.lastname@example.org.