Spurred by an incident with Occupy Kokomo protesters in January 2012, new security rules have been approved for the Howard County Courthouse.
Two of the protesters were arrested after they entered the courthouse, one using a dollar bill to cover his face.
The new security rules were approved Monday by the Howard County commissioners and will become effective once the ordinance is published, probably by the end of February.
Sheriff Steve Rogers said the ordinance clarifies and defines what is a weapon, defines disruptive behavior and prohibits the wearing of a mask.
The ordinance defines weapons as firearms, knives, Tasers, stun guns, clubs, explosives, hazardous materials, toxic chemicals, as well as signs, posters or placards larger than 10 by 15 inches.
Facial coverings that hide a person’s identity are prohibited in the courthouse, except for medical devices for bona fide medical reasons that can be removed to allow identification.
Disruptive conduct includes any actions, noises or sounds that, in the judgment of security officers, are disturbing or interfering with the normal course of judicial and administrative business in the courthouse. The ordinance recognizes the first-floor rotunda as a public forum, and security officers will make an effort to balance the public’s right to assemble in the rotunda with the decorum needed to operate the court system.
Any violation of the rules is subject to a $2,500 fine, and for employees violating the rules, the disciplinary action can include termination from employment.
In other business, four companies submitted bids for the demolition of nine houses in the Hillcrest and Hillsdale subdivisions as part of the flood mitigation program.
The houses constructed more than 30 years ago have been prone to flood damage when the Wildcat Creek overflows its banks.
Bids were received from the following companies: Vincent Concrete, $99,965; Alliance Excavating, $85,640; North American Construction, $92,400; and Yarberry Landscaping and Excavating, $98,000.
Greg Sheline, director of the Howard County Plan Commission, said the county still has approximately $500,000 to complete the project.
He said the demolition work would probably start by the end of March, depending on the weather.
County Attorney Larry Murrell said it was expected the bids received would be in the range of $200,000.
The commissioners took the bids under advisement with a contract expected to be awarded Feb. 11.
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