Fremont County Supervisors revisit discussion of guns in courthouse

The Fremont County Board of Supervisors discussed the county courthouse firearm policy at its meeting last week.

The Fremont County Board of Supervisors addressed the courthouse firearm policy again at their July 15 meeting.

Jack Reed told the supervisors he and Deputy Fremont County Attorney Tyler Loontjer had discussed the county’s policy recently, as different counties are handling the rules differently. Reed said from a Human Resources standpoint, the public can have a firearm in the courthouse if they are licensed to conceal and carry, otherwise they’d be breaking the law. Reed said he didn’t know, though, liability-wise, how a county could prevent those guns from being carried into courtrooms and court offices, as most of them are within courthouses.

Fremont County had changed courthouse rules to allow concealed carry in the courthouse years earlier because their rule prohibiting guns was illegal. Loontjer said all of the copies of the handbook still had rules prohibiting carrying a firearm in the courthouse, though, so the county might need to also update their handbook.

Reed suggested the county could put a section in the handbook allowing concealed carry in the courthouse, but prohibiting guns in the courtroom, or basically on the 3rd floor as it was all court offices. He said some counties are doing that and putting signs up on their doors saying guns could not be taken in the courtroom or court offices.

Loontjer said he didn’t think the county needed to add anything to the handbook, but rather should just remove the section prohibiting guns, and make sure there were no signs prohibiting them in the courthouse. The supervisors said Troy Housh had removed any remaining signs the day before.

The supervisors discussed how to avoid guns going into the courtroom, and the possibility of having a walk-through metal detector, or a deputy on hand with a wand detector.

Reed noted other bills have been introduced regarding custody and control of courthouses and physical premises, so laws regarding where guns were allowed could face additional changes.

The supervisors and Loontjer agreed those kinds of discussions should be made when Fremont County Sheriff Kevin Aistrope could be present, and decided to focus on removing the leftover language prohibiting guns from the handbook for the time being.

The supervisors reviewed three bids for closing services for the buyout program, approving the bid of Clear Title and Abstract, LLC of Council Bluffs, IA. Loontjer explained the other two companies, Moore and Corbett Law Firm and Goosmann Law sent bids for legal services, but not some of the other services needed for the closings, and that Loontjer would be handling the legal services.

Loontjer recommended Clear Title, and said that was also the company Mills County decided on for their buyout closings. Total cost per closing from Clear Title was bid at $910. Loontjer added that he was hoping the county would be able to do 3-5 closings per week, and Clear Title said they could handle that.

On the subject of buyouts, Loontjer said he had sent a draft contract for abstracting services for the buyout to Fremont County Title. He said they had concerns because the county had a lump sum amount. Loontjer said in Mills County they contacted each owner to see if they had an abstract, so the title company knew whether they would be just updating an abstract or how much work would be required.

Loontjer said he had suggested the title company contact Alexsis Fleener at Southwest Iowa Planning Council (SWIPCO) to see if she could get that information. The supervisors tabled the contract for further clarification.

The supervisors appointed Sandy Parmenter to the Tourism Board, replacing Chuck Larson, whose term had ended. Graham said it should have been done June 30. He told the others Teresa Crecelius had also just submitted a resignation from the tourism board and would need to be replaced as soon as possible. Fremont County Auditor Dee Owen said she would post notice of the open Tourism Board seat for two weeks.

In other business, the supervisors approved:

• an application for underground construction in right-of-way on 120th Street, 2.1 miles southeast of Tabor, by Windstream Iowa Communications, LLC;

• an application for underground construction in right-of-way by Windstream Iowa Communications, to bore 305th Ave and place service wire to 1911 305th Ave.;

• payment of a voucher for $3,088.38 to HGM Associates for engineering services for J-24 emergency repairs from I29 off/on ramps to west limits of Thurman;

• payment of a voucher for $2,730.49 to HGM Associates for ditch work and pipe jetting for J-64 emergency repairs ;

• payment of a voucher for $6,037.87 to HGM Associates for engineering services for contract modifications for J-10 design, and

• a GAX Form to Draw $66,911 from CDBG grant funds for the Nishnabotna Watershed.

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