County Officials Okay Illinois Courthouse Security Project

By CN Staff

PITTSFIELD, Ill. — Pike County board members recently voted on a new plan that will help increase security for its courthouse building, while maintaining its historical integrity.

Built in 1894, the Pike County Courthouse has dominated the square in Pittsfield since that time. Its Gothic-style structure was designed by architect Henry Elliott, and its octagonal shape is unique among courthouses in Illinois.

The approximately $160,000 project will boost security for the courthouse. Pittsfield has a population of approximately 4,500, and is located in west-central Illinois, between the Illinois and Mississippi rivers.

Originally the board considered an addition that would provide a secure entrance before those entering the courthouse could access the stairs and elevator. However, backlash from the community required the board to consider other options.

“All work will be done inside the building — nothing will change on the outside of the courthouse,” said Pike County Board Chairman Andy Borrowman  “We knew something had to be done or there’d be no security, but we got a lot of pushback from the community against building on to the historic building.”

During a meeting in June, the county’s building and ground committee agreed to renovate the entrance of the building to provide room for a security checkpoint and reprogramming the courthouse elevator.

Under the new plan, those entering the courthouse from the stairs will access the first floor and go through security. Conversely, those using the elevator from the ground floor will only be able to access the first floor until they have gone through security there. They will then receive an override for the elevator to access other floors.

Judge Frank McCartney said the building’s security has remained an important issue for quite some time as threats of violence have increased.

Reprogramming the elevator will cost approximately roughly $75,000 to $80,000—nearly half the entire project cost.

“The plan that was adopted isn’t perfect, but it does provide more security,” said McCartney “This project doesn’t prevent a second phase if it is deemed necessary.”

The Circuit Clerk’s Office will divert some funding received through court fees to cover salaries. This will free up dollars from the county’s general fund to cover renovation costs. Additionally, increases to the security fund will help cover personnel costs required to cover the security checkpoint.

A timeline for the a project has not been yet established.