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  • Writer's pictureCharlene Sims, Journal staff

Commission unaware of emergency button in meeting room

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

By Charlene Sims,

MOUND CITY – On Monday, Oct. 2, Linn County Sheriff Kevin Friend addressed an issue that occurred last Monday. Friend asked the commissioners to set a protocol about why and who activates the emergency alert buttons located in the building.

At the commission meeting last week, an employee from the county annex activated the emergency button when County Counselor Gary Thompson walked over to the public works department and asked them to contact the sheriff to come back to the meeting.

Thompson and some employees in the building were concerned because the audience of solar opponents had become loud and unruly.

Friend said that employees thought that they could get him to return to the meeting by pushing the button instead of just calling him.

But, Friend explained, when the button was pushed, an emergency call was sent to all law enforcement in the area, including highway patrol and cities, saying that there was an emergency situation at the annex building.

Commission Chair Danny McCullough asked the other two commissioners what they thought of moving contentious meetings to a courtroom in the judicial building, which would add more security to the meeting by having people go through the scanners and in a building where there was law enforcement.

Commissioner Jim Johnson said that he thought moving to the courtroom would create a lot of headache for the people in the judicial building.

“I don’t think that’s the place we need to be. That’s my feeling,” said Johnson. “We’ve got a meeting room right here and we’ve got doors. We can shut the doors.”

Commissioner Jason Hightower said he was indifferent on it.

Friend told the commissioners that he felt like the meeting is open to the public and if they come in and are passionate, so be it.

“As an elected, I think we take on some of that and listen,” said Friend.

Johnson said, “I’ve been here almost three years and I’ve seen some pretty passionate people at meetings, but they’re people. I didn’t feel threatened Monday myself. I‘ve been to a lot worse situations than that.”

“The commissioners should be the ones making the call,” said Johnson.

Commissioners Johnson and Hightower and County Counselor Thompson told Friend that, before this, they did not even know there were buttons to push.

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