LISBON - Less than six months after assuming responsibility for courthouse security, Columbiana County commissioners have decided to create a full-time position to handle most of the duties.
Commissioners this week voted to create the full-time position of courthouse security chief and named Justin Madison to the job. Madison, who had worked as a part-time courthouse security officer before quitting to take a full-time job, will be paid $12 an hour, plus benefits.
Commissioners assumed responsibility for courthouse security in July following a well-publicized dispute with county Common Pleas Court Judge C. Ashley Pike that ended when Pike agreed the judges would limit their security oversight to the second floor, where the courtrooms are located.
This left county Sheriff Ray Stone and commissioners in charge of the main security station located on the first floor just inside the courthouse entrance. Both security stations have been staffed with part-time officers as a way to save money, but Commission Chairman Mike Halleck said this arrangement has not worked well in recent months.
Halleck said the limited staff of part-time officers have been calling off with increased frequency, often forcing them to scramble to find someone to staff the security station. It has gotten to where Stone and his office staff have manned the security station, as has Halleck and the commissioners' clerks.
"What we were experiencing is scheduling problems, with people not showing up to work," he said.
Halleck and Stone said it is not the fault of the part-time officers since all have other jobs to contend with. "There was a lot of call-offs because those guys all work other jobs," Stone said.
Having someone there full-time is expected to eliminate most of the scheduling problems. Stone said the plan is to schedule a part-time officer for four hours per day to assist Madison, which will likely mean a reduction in overall hours since two part-time officers were usually on duty during most of the eight hours the courthouse is open.
Madison and the other officers will be paid out of the commissioners' budget, although Stone officially will remain in charge of courthouse security. Halleck expects the increased cost from creation of a full-time security chief position to be offset somewhat by using less part-time staff.