BY SHERI TRUSTY
When Ottawa County Municipal Court Judge Louis P. Wargo III commenced his first term in January, 2020, he immediately began making plans to bring much-needed, heightened security to the Ottawa County Government Complex. Until recently, staff and visitors could come and go freely at the complex, which includes the municipal court and the Ottawa County Health Department.
Security upgrades include a walk-through magnetometer (metal detector), x-ray screening, 13 internal and external cameras, emergency alarms, computers and other support equipment.
“It was something our judge wanted to do since he was elected, for the security of our staff and the public,” said Clerk of Court Gail Miller. “This building used to be a department store. When they converted it into a court about 20 years ago, security was not as much of an issue.”
COVID restrictions postponed the project, but the Ohio Supreme Court performed a security inspection of the complex in 2021 and issued a report outlining problems that needed to be fixed. The most pressing issue in the report was the lack of a single entry point. Prior to the upgrades, staff and visitors could enter the building through multiple doors.
Thanks to a collaboration between Wargo and Ottawa County Department of Health Commissioner, Jerry Bingham, the new security system went into operation on Monday, Oct. 16. Now, anyone entering the complex to visit the court or the health department must use the front door and pass through security.
The upgrades were funded by an Ohio Supreme Court Technology Grant and were made possible through the cooperation of the Ottawa County Commissioners, Ottawa County IT Department, Ottawa County Health Department, Ottawa County Building & Grounds Department head, Tom Losie, and Ottawa County Sheriff Steve Levorchick.
“Tom Losie was instrumental in getting the equipment. There was a lot of coordination by him,” Miller said. “We were able to get permission from the county commissioners to staff this with sheriff’s deputies. Sheriff Levorchick has been saying for years and years that we need to get security in this building.”
Building security is managed by retired Sheriff’s Captain and former jail administrator, Kent Davis, with backup management by Bailiff Darryl Flint.