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New fence part of courthouse security upgrades

Posted: June 21, 2013 5:56 p.m.
Updated: June 24, 2013 5:00 a.m.
Fraser Speaks/C-I

The new security fence behind the Kershaw County Courthouse also surrounds the Kershaw County Voter Registration office.

A new fence under construction is part of security upgrades being made at the Kershaw County Courthouse. According to Kershaw County Administrator Vic Carpenter, the upgrades are being made due to pressure from South Carolina Chief Justice Jean H. Toal and a review of the state’s courthouses. He said upgrades being made at the Kershaw County Courthouse are a result of recommendations by a panel that includes those who use courthouses, such as judges. Carpenter said findings showed that the courthouse is deficient in terms of safety, with security methods dating back to the 1960s.

The new fence is being constructed around the courthouse’s entire back parking lot, to include the Kershaw County Voter Registration Office, at a cost of $75,000.

Carpenter said the decision to install the fence wasn’t made by the county but by those who use the courthouse on a daily basis. Carpenter also said that the fence would result in immediate changes rather than a “long, drawn out process,” which was another option.

Carpenter said he treated the need for the fence as an emergency situation. He said that while that allowed him to by-pass the normal bidding process, he did obtain quotes and decided that Guardian Fence Suppliers were the best option for supplying and installing the fence.

“The goal wasn’t to save money. The goal was to get greater security and safety,” Carpenter said.

The new fence will feature controlled access, security cameras and other security updates.

Carpenter said one of the reasons for installing the fence now is an upcoming capital murder trial. Nicholas Jermaine Miller is accused of running Beverly Hope Melton off the road and kidnapping her in Chesterfield County, and then transporting her to Kershaw County where he allegedly raped and killed her. According to the Fifth Circuit Solicitor’s Office, Miller’s trial is currently set for September 2014.

Carpenter said the fence will provide greater security for those who use the back entrance, including deputies transporting prisoners to court. He said a variety of other safety improvements were also made to the courthouse.

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