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Sheriff’s department enjoying new offices on first floor of courthouse

Moving on up

LAURA JAMESON/THE EXPRESS A thin line flag decorates the sheriff deputies’ space.

LOCK HAVEN — The Clinton County Sheriff’s Department has risen to new heights.

The sheriff and his staff have moved from the basement of the courthouse to a much larger and more aesthetic suite of offices on the first floor.

This is one of the final moves of county offices when the county purchased the Piper Building and developed a plan to best utilize space in the county buildings.

“When the commissioners were looking at space needs, the idea of getting the sheriff out of the basement came up,” Clinton County Sheriff Kerry Stover said. With the register and recorder moving to the Piper Building, that space on the first floor of the courthouse opened up.

And it was a perfect fit, with the commissioners’ intent to keep all law enforcement offices in the courthouse.

LAURA JAMESON/THE EXPRESS The sheriff’s department’s old space will be used as a meeting space for attorneys and clients in the future.

The new office has three spaces — the sheriff’s office, an office for the sheriff’s deputies and a space for office staff to conduct day-to- day business, such as providing concealed carry permits and other handing out information to the public.

Minor improvements were made, including installation of counter top space, sealing cracks in walls and painting.

In an effort to give the suite of offices its own theme, Stover decided to paint a “thin blue line” on the walls of each office and a strip of molding in each room has been painted bright blue. With help from his daughter, Kara, a Law Enforcement Thin Blue Line American Flag was created on the wall in the deputies room.

A small window was installed in the main office space where those interested in receiving concealed carry permits can apply or ask questions. Plexiglas will also be placed in the window to provide safety for those in the office, Stover said.

Even though the sheriff has moved out of the basement, that space will still be utilized by the sheriff’s department to keep inmates who have court appearances in the holding cells down there.

Also, three office spaces in the basement will be used as conference rooms for inmates to meet with their attorneys prior to court. The fourth room in the basement will be used as a storage room for firearms seized from those with PFA’s against them, Stover said.

In October last year Gov. Tom Wolf signed Act 79 into law which amended the civil Protection From Abuse Act and the Pennsylvania Crimes Code, which includes changes to the firearm relinquishment provisions and no longer allows firearms be given to third-party friends and family for safe keeping.

Instead the defendant must hand over the weapon to law enforcement, including the sheriff’s department, Stover said.

Although the downstairs space was nearer to the holding cells, it wasn’t quite enough room for the department.

“It was okay, but it wasn’t really enough space. As far as serving the public, I definitely think we’re better upstairs,” the sheriff said. “My only issue is we hold inmates downstairs and my office is upstairs. I like to be involved and watching inmates along with the other deputies, so I may be downstairs helping at times.”

The process of transporting inmates to and from the correctional facility, up and down to court or meeting with their attorneys can be more labor intensive but “I’d like to think we’re pretty efficient,” Stover said. “I prefer the inmates have as little public interaction as possible, this is where bad things can happen.”

The sheriff’s department includes seven full-time deputies, the sheriff, two part-time deputies who work on as needed basis, one full-time office manager and one part-time secretary. This number is slightly lower than other similar sized counties, but that isn’t due to a lack of funds or interested hires, Stover said.

As he stood in the doorway of his new office space, Sheriff Stover smiled.

“My door is always open and I’m here to help anyone who needs anything,” he said.

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