Local News

Barry County Courthouse will get expanded security

The Barry County Commission on July 26  agreed to go ahead with the contractor bidding process for circuit court room improvements for an estimated $308,000, with $40,000 coming from the diverted felon’s fund and the remainder from the county building rehabilitation fund.

The initial plan was to cost $300,000. But, after further research, a revised plan called for more extensive security measures for $456,000.

Working with Bob Van Putten, architect/owner of Landmark Design Group, on the third plan, the commissioners proposed delaying two improvements and using those funds for the expanded security work in the second floor and courtroom.


The vote was 5-2 with Commissioners Jim Dull and Vivian Conner voting “no” and Commissioners Jon Smelker, Ben Geiger, Craig Stolsonburg, David Jackson and Howard Gibson voting “yes.”

Conner was concerned that the jury would enter the room walking in front of the public seating area. Dull said anything beyond security for officers in the courtroom was, "a waste of money."


“I'm pleased Commissioners chose to bring a 122 year-old courtroom up to the task of meeting today's security challenges,” Geiger said after the meeting. “The plan approved today is within our budget, but more importantly, better protects our constituents, staff and law enforcement.”

The revised plan includes:

Item                                             Cost                  Status


Parking Lot Replacement           $ 147,000         Not Selected


Exterior Entry Improvements      $57,000           Not Selected


Ground Floor Renovation            $81,000            Selected


Second Floor Holding Area         $167,000           Selected


Renovated Judicial Toilet/Jury    $ 20,000             Selected


Circuit Courtroom                        $ 40,000            by County


Total estimated cost:                    $308,000


County staff will do the majority of the inside of the courtroom work, moving the jury box, the witness stand and the clerk/recorder to the other side of the courtroom, with subcontractors doing wood finish/millwork and carpets. According to the revision, the carpet and public seating in the courtroom will stay. //




In other business, the commissioners:


*  heard an annual report from Drain Commissioner Russ Yarger and a presentation from Director Travis Alden highlighting the Barry County Economic Development Alliance (BCEDA) and the Chamber of Commerce's structure, goals and initiatives.


* approved the 2017-2019 Region 3B Area Agency on Aging proposed plan with goals, services and funding for older adults in Barry and Calhoun counties.


* approved a resolution in support of the Stepping Up Initiative, to reduce the number of mentally ill people in jails. Additional grant money for jail diversion initiatives are tied to support from the commission.


* approved a state emergency management performance grant agreement to pay $31,454 of Barry County Emergency Management Director Jim Yarger’s salary and benefits, and also to approve the county as sub-grantee for the Region 5 Michigan Technical Rescue Team equipment and training purchases for $65,000 during 2015.


* approved the Barry County Trial Court replacing a 2009 Dodge Caravan with a 2017 Dodge Grand Caravan through Mi-DEAL for $23,048. The capital budget allows $20,000 for replacement of the van, and amend the budget to cover the difference of $1,048.


* appointed Commissioner Vivian Conner as Officer Delegate and Commissioner Ben Geiger as Officer Delegate Alternate to the Municipal Employee Retirement System 2016 annual meeting. Jeffrey Nieuwenhuis will  be Employee Delegate with Karen Barns as Employee Delegate Alternate.



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