Jurors being sent home in Jefferson County due to broken elevator

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by Elizabeth Eisele/ KMOV.com

KMOV.com

Posted on July 9, 2014 at 5:26 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 9 at 6:27 PM

(KMOV.com) – A broken elevator at the Jefferson County Courthouse in Hillsboro is causing headaches for anyone entering the building and officials say it could take even more time to repair because of the elevator’s age.

The elevator has been going out since the middle of June, but it completely broke down over a week ago. If potential jurors are unable to use the stairs, they are sent home. By forcing everyone to use the stairs, Jefferson County could face lawsuits for violating ADA laws.

“It’s such an old elevator,” said Jefferson County Administrator Ken Waller, “I think it’s probably close to 60-years-old. There are some parts that are so old they don’t even have parts for it. So they’ll have to basically manufacture parts for it.”

Complaints continue to mount each day as the elevator goes unrepaired, but presiding judge Troy Cardona said they’re just trying to make the best of the situation.

“No one knows if they’ll be able to fix it,” Cardona said, “So we’re addressing it the best way we know how, to make each floor accessible and use other buildings.”

Until repairs can be made, officials are making plans to move some cases from the upper floors to other building, but for security purposes only the rear entrance is being used, which is on the ground floor. A key card scanner will also be added to the front door to give employees access to the first floor without using the stairs. Visitors in wheelchairs will also use that same and a chair lift will be added to the stairwell to take disabled visitors and workers to the top floor.

Some case will be moved to the municipal courtrooms at the Justice Center and the county council meeting room in the Administration Building.

“We’re going to have to do one of two items,” Waller continued, “put another elevator in or rebuild that one. And obviously, that’s going to take some time.”

The temporary fix costs money for more metal detectors and deputies to staff doors. Officials said it will take at least 30 days to coordinate. The long term solution will probably be a bond issue to build a new courthouse, but it’s not a popular idea during an election year.

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