Petition to remove court house wall fails in front of commissioners

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BRYAN COUNTY, OK -- A group of petitioners crammed into the commissioners court room Monday, asking commissioners to remove a new wall in the court house.

Bryan County Court Clerk Sandy Stroud is leading the charge, claiming it defaces the building's history.

"Everyone in the Court Clerk's office, the district court, a judge, court reporters, many attorneys - [all] there today that spoke in support of [removing] it."

The wall partitions off the south wing of the court house. This wing will host the new election board offices.

Commissioner Jay Perry said separating the offices is a safety issue.

"We're in the process of probably putting an armed deputy there on the first floor. And having one way in so they can check people in," he said.

The election board sometimes stays open later than the rest of the court house and often holds elections on Saturdays, Perry said.

"One of my suggestions is to put a retractable gate along this entrance here, and no one will be able to go up the stairs. The elevator can be locked so no one can go up the elevator," Stroud said.

Stroud said she met with Commissioner Monty Montgomery last Friday to try to work out a compromise.

"And Monty seemed to agree with that. And in fact we even discussed ways to take down the wall before the meeting, and I had a good feeling about that. But I guess he had a change of heart over the weekend," she said.

At Monday's meeting, Commissioner Tony Simmons moved to remove the wall and explore other security options.

No commissioner seconded the motion.

"Now if you've got a viable alternative, I'm more than willing to listen to that. And make decisions based on that. We don't know everything. We don't have all the answers. And we don't pretend that we do," Perry said.

Stroud said she's looking to form a court house preservation committee that would try to preserve the court house from future physical alterations.

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