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Council approves plans to step up security in city hall lobby

The Medford Council Committee-of-the-Whole at its meeting Monday night approved a plan to renovate the front entrance at city hall.

City coordinator Joe Harris told the committee with COVID-19 and security concerns for the front office employees at city hall, a design was developed for the front entrance which will increase the safety of city employees and still be customer friendly. He said the plan would replace the temporary windows at the front counter with permanent bullet proof glass and add a set of security doors leading from the front lobby area into the rest of city hall. Harris said Staab Construction has worked with Berry Engineering on similar projects and would do the project while in Medford working on the sewer plant upgrades. He said it would take six to eight weeks for the bullet proof glass to arrive and expected the project wouldn’t be started until after January 1 of next year. Cost of the project will be $23,000 with the cost shared between the city’s general fund and the water, sewer and electric utility budgets.

Alderman Mike Bub asked if there has ever been an incident at city hall where the city employees had to contact the police to deal with it. Harris said there had been and Bryan Carey, who was the police chief at the time, happened to be in city hall and handled the situation. He said people have thrown money at the employees in the front office because they don’t like paying their bills. Mayor Mike Wellner said he can remember three or four times when upset customers have had to be calmed down, adding there had been discussions about improving city hall security “long” before the COVID-19 pandemic started.

Alderman Dave Roiger asked if the city could be reimbursed from COVID-19 relief funding. Harris said the funding ends November 6 and the project would be done after that date. Alderman Laura Homes asked if the city could get safety grant funding for the project. Harris said he would look into it, but didn’t think the city would qualify because it wasn’t a school.

The plan now goes to the common council for final approval.

The committee also approved purchasing a used cable plow from Taylor Electric Cooperative for $15,000.

Electric Utility manager Spencer Titera said Taylor Electric was upgrading to a much larger machine and offered to sell the old unit to the city for $15,000, He said the electric utility has been using the machine this past summer to pull in 2-inch conduit and bury underground wires and its small size makes it easy to get into property owner’s back yards. Titera said the electric utility would use the plow from 100 to 200 hours a year and expected to get 20 to 30 years of service from the machine.