County completes upgrades to courthouse PA system

Published 8:34 am Friday, April 10, 2015

Improvements to a public address system at the Carter County Courthouse and Justice Center Annex have been completed and soon training will begin for officeholders and employees on how to use the system in an emergency.

“The equipment has been installed and completed,” Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey told members of the court security committee on Thursday. “We’ve tested it, and everything is in working order.”

County employees can use the public address system for a variety of things — such as to announce a need to evacuate the building or to warn of inclement weather in the area.

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The county first began looking into a public address system a few years ago after a bomb threat was called in at the courthouse.

“We realized at that point in time we were falling way behind where we needed to be,” Humphrey said. “The thing we found out when that bomb threat came in was we had no means of communication for all the offices.”

At the time of the bomb threat some parts of the courthouse had heard of the potential danger while other offices had not.

A public address system was installed, but according to Humphrey it was not effective.

“There were dead zones within the courthouse where the public couldn’t hear the announcements,” he said.

During a previous meeting of the court security committee, the group authorized $10,000 to fund an expansion to the existing system, Humphrey said.

With the new funding, additional speakers were installed as well as a battery backup system. Now, with the press of a single button on a telephone, an emergency message can be broadcast through the main courthouse as well as the justice center annex. The alert system works through the existing telephone system in place at both courthouse sites.

“We also installed panic buttons in all of the offices,” Humphrey said. “We are doing everything we can to make the courthouse as safe as possible.”

Training for the public address system will be developed by Humphrey and Carter County Emergency Management Agency Director Gary Smith.

The training will include information on when to use the system and what messages or alerts to broadcast in specific situations, Humphrey said.