Bryan Co. Courthouse renovations halted due to lack of permit

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BRYAN COUNTY, OK -- Renovations on the Bryan County Courthouse have been temporarily halted after an inspection by the State Fire Marshal's office found they were building without a permit.

Bryan County Commissioners spent the past year trying to make the court house safe from outside attackers leaving only a single entrance.

But an inspection last month by the state fire marshal's office launched after someone filed a complaint shows the court house is not up to safety codes in the event of an emergency inside the building.

According to the Chief of Operations, Sam Schafnitt, "because of the amount of occupants that were in the building, they had to provide two exits instead of one."

The west end door of the courthouse works as an escape exit, because you can unlock it from the inside, but the fire marshal says the door is actually too narrow and doesn't count as an emergency exit.

Commissioner Jay Perry said, "We were completely unaware that we weren't up to code because the fire marshal actually came in and was there when we were doing this."

Perry says they plan to widen the west end door to bring the first floor up to code.

Perry added, "It's a matter of pulling the old door out and putting the new door in."

The report also finds commissioners were in violation for renovations to the second floor.

Schafnitt said, "Apparently the project had not been permitted. So we are working with Bryan County to assist them in getting the project permitted."

Perry argues the county shouldn't need a permit for the second floor.

Perry added, "since we're not changing the floor plan, all we're doing is putting up sheet rock. We're just making it look nice. We're fixing the floors and we're fixing the walls."

Schafnitt says the fire marshal's office has halted construction on the building until they sort it out.

Schafnitt said, "We just need to make sure the building is safe for anyone who works in there, and any citizen who comes to the courthouse to do business."

Perry says commissioners are currently discussing how they plan to go about widening the west side exit.

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