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Courthouse safety remains a problem in Lawrence County
Commission fails to reach an agreement with fire marshal

By Kristen Bishop
kbishop@decaturdaily.com · 340-2443

MOULTON — The Lawrence County Commission asked for another court date Monday after failing to reach an agreement with the state fire marshal regarding safety issues at the courthouse.

County attorney Cecil Caine was still negotiating with the fire marshal Aug. 7, the original court date for the county’s appeal hearing.

In hopes the two parties would find a solution outside the courtroom, Caine asked to delay the hearing, which Circuit Judge Philip Reich approved.

But commissioners weren’t satisfied with State Fire Marshal Edward Paulk’s proposal and voted to ask for another court date.

Paulk filed an order July 5 that threatened to shut down the courthouse for failing to comply with state fire and building codes.

County officials agreed that his demands — like immediately discontinuing the use of extension cords and limiting visitors to 49 on each floor — would seriously disrupt county and courthouse operations. They filed an appeal July 10.

Negotiations that could have prevented a legal battle failed when Paulk said the county should hire a full-time trained employee to monitor fire hazards.

His proposal called for an additional part-time employee to be present when court is in session.

To keep from having to pay the funds for another salary, the commission made a counteroffer.

Instead of hiring additional employees, commissioners asked if they could select current employees from each office to train to identify and monitor fire hazards.

Paulk refused the counteroffer.

The appeal hearing has not yet been scheduled.

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