POINT PLEASANT — Drug Court will start being held in Mason County on Oct. 1 and the Mason County Commission is attempting to determine what space is available for the court to convene.
The space issue was discussed at this week’s regular meeting of the Mason County Commission. During the meeting, a letter from Judge David W. Nibert was entered into the record referencing a meeting he’d had with Commission President Rick Handley and County Administrator John Gerlach. As a result of this meeting, Nibert said it was his understanding the drug court would utilize the two easterly rooms in the old library space with the westerly room continuing to be used by the county clerk’s office for storage of electronic voting machines. Under this scenario Nibert said this would leave drug court without a waiting area. The waiting area would be the ground floor hallway.
Nibert expressed his concern that visitors to the courthouse many not appreciate these individuals from drug court being found in the ground floor hallway within sight of the security screening area where visitors’ personal belongings are searched. Nibert also said his concerns may be unfounded and was willing to try to operate within the two rooms.
In the past, the county commission has mentioned using the second floor of the hardware building, currently under renovation, for storage, including storage of voting equipment currently in the westerly room of the first floor of the courthouse. Commissioner Tracy Doolittle said she felt the new building should be used for storage of items like voting equipment. She said the courthouse should be used for offices, not storage, and the county needed to utilize space in the new building it was spending so much money to renovate.
County Clerk Diana Cromley, also at the meeting, said she didn’t consider election equipment as storage. She said she realized there was the perception that since elections only happen periodically, the machines could be stored in another building but she said the machines are checked monthly and elections aren’t one day, they include preparation months in advance and conclude months later. She said having the machines in another building would make it logistically harder on her staff to conduct their duties when it came to the duty of carrying out elections.
Handley said the commission should wait until Commissioner Miles Epling, who was not at the meeting, could get in on the discussion.
Gerlach said the county’s investment in a drug court program includes providing space and furniture for drug court but it would receive no rent from the court, unlike family and magistrate courts.
There are already 500-600 adults in adult drug court every day in the state. The goal is to reduce recidivism and substance abuse among those adults. It’s also a program which integrates alcohol and other drug related services into the court where everyone sits down at the table to take a multi-disciplinary team approach to getting people through to graduation and turning their lives around.