County will increase signange prohibiting visitors from bringing items like knives and firearms

Columbia County commissioners say they are increasing signage at the Columbia County Courthouse after an uptick in weapons brought to the public building.

Addressing commissioners Wednesday, Columbia Circuit Judge Jenefer Grant rallied for better signage at the courthouse, saying weapons like knives are being confiscated frequently. SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: COURTNEY VAUGHN - Columbia County Circuit Judge Jenefer Grant asks county commissioners to add more signage prohibiting weapons in the courthouse. The judge said there has been an uptick in knives being brought in.

"The signs that we have around the courthouse prohibiting weapons are inadequate," Grant said. "Deputy Kyles came to me saying the security deputies at the courthouse are regularly taking large knives off of people coming into the courthouse."

Grant said the signage around the building's entrance needs to be more prominent so visitors know they can't enter with knives and other weapons.

Commissioner Henry Heimuller asked if deputies were arresting people who bring weapons to the courthouse.

"We've been hearing all this terrorism stuff for years and years," Heimuller noted. "What's being done about this? If somebody blatantly goes by those signs and overlooks them, what are we doing about that?"

Grant said even if courthouse visitors who brought weapons were arrested, it would further jeopardize security at the building.

"If he has to arrest somebody, then that takes him up to the jail, and leaves us with no one," Grant noted.

Columbia County Sheriff Deputy Lee Rigdon, a security deputy at the courthouse, said the knives most carried by visitors are pocket knives, but some have come with weapons large enough to need a clip or a holster.

"We have a lot of people that carry these like they carry keys in their pocket, out of routine," Rigdon told commissioners. "Ninety percent of what we're looking at or better, is probably just a pocket knife."

Rigdon said he didn't perceive a major threat.

"Let's not turn it into a bigger thing than what it is," the deputy said. "All I can do is keep an eye on it."

Commissioners said county staff were already in the process of putting more prominent signage up.

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