By Nathan Mayberg
MONTICELLO July 12, 2005 As a result of the devastating fire at the Sullivan County Government Center, Sullivan County Manager Dan Briggs presented new security options to the Sullivan County Legislature on Thursday.
He estimated the damage at the building and the cost of the cleanup to total more than $1,000,000.
Briggs recommended the county hire additional deputies from the Sullivan County Sheriff's Department to monitor the facility. Currently, two deputies work at the Government Center and overlap during the afternoon. The last one leaves at 8 p.m.
Briggs would like to purchase up to 20 security cameras to be installed throughout the building, as well as outside and on the roof. The cameras would be monitored by the 911 Center. Briggs said he is looking into Homeland Security grants to cover the expenditures.
In addition, there would be ID swipe cards for those who work in the center after 6 p.m. That way, their entrance and exit would be documented. After 6 p.m., all activity would be channeled through one door likely the entrance leading to the main parking lot. Those coming and going after that time, and on the weekends, could be mandated to sign in and out of the building.
The county manager advised installing a secure punch-in system for offices with confidentiality concerns, such as the personnel office, county attorney's office, county clerks office, office of risk management and the county treasurers office.
Briggs said he is hopeful that insurance will cover the cost of the damage and the cleanup, aside from a $70,000 to $80,000 deductible.
Despite the fire, many county agencies still operated. Transportation for veterans and the elderly still took place, and Management Information Systems was functioning throughout the cleanup.
Briggs thanked the many county employees who helped during the fire and in the cleanup. During the fire, some DPW employees, along with local firemen, placed long plastic sheets throughout the county clerk's office to protect precious county records.
Briggs, who was on the scene at the time of the fire, called the local firemen, led by the Monticello and Rock Hill fire departments, "brilliant" in their containment of the fire.
Briggs did take issue with the notion that the county hadn't done anything about security before. After September 11, he said that ID cards were mandated for all employees to have in their possession. Big planters were placed on the walkways in front of the entrances to help stave off the possibility of a vehicle with explosives crashing into the center. Richard Martinkovic was named emergency management coordinator and he now also serves as public safety commissioner.
In other business, Briggs said there could be more suspensions as the investigation and hearing process about the Sullivan County Department of Public Works unfolds.
So far, Commissioner Peter Lilholt has retired, Deputy Commissioner Phil Nicoletti, and Director of Parks, Recreation and Beautification Richard Caraluzzo have both been suspended with pay.
County Manager Dan Briggs said the county can only legally withhold pay for a maximum of 30 days, and that deadline has passed.
Chief Fiscal Administrative Officer of the DPW Amy Winters is still on paid administrative leave. A fifth DPW employee, Bob Trotta, who has been accused of being involved in breaking into the personnel office, has not been charged as of Friday. He is the engineering supervisor at the Sullivan County International Airport.
The disciplinary hearing on the matter is scheduled to resume this Friday at 9 a.m. at the government center, with Lilholt expected to continue his testimony.
In a related matter, the Sullivan County Legislatures Public Works Committee gave the nod to Robert Meyer to take the reins as new Commissioner of the Department of Public Works. If approved by the full legislature, he will begin a four-year term on August 1 at $80,750 a year.