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Gaines has used grants to bolster security at Town Hall

Photos by Tom Rivers: Town Clerk Sharon Harding works behind plated glass that was recently installed in the Town Hall. This window was paid for with town funds, and not the state JCAP grant, but is part of a push to improve security in the building.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 September 2017 at 10:57 am

GAINES – A series of security upgrades have been implemented in recent years at the Gaines Town Hall with the bulk of the projects paid for by state grants through the Justice Court Assistance Program.

The town has moved a door for the judge’s chambers so the town justice is no longer entering and leaving the courtroom where defendants could easily confront the judge. The justice now has a door leading behind the bench in a separated area from the courtroom.

The town added a plate glass window for the town clerk, and a secure door for the court clerk.

Maureen Kline works behind a secure door as the Gaines court clerk. She has written three of the grants.

A JCAP grant also is making the courtroom more handicapped accessible.

The court clerks have written four of the grants proposals that have brought in about $60,000 on state funds for the security and accessible improvements. The grants have also helped fund energy efficiency upgrades, including new windows for the building.

Town Supervisor Carol Culhane said the Town Hall is located on a busy Route 104. She wanted to improve the safety for employees. The court has been busier in the past decade after the Village of Albion eliminated its court, shifting those cases to the town courts in Gaines and Albion.

One project included adding a new ramp and entrance in the back of the meeting room that is separate from the front entrance. Besides being handicapped accessible, the entrance provides an emergency exit, Culhane said.

A new glass front door allows visibility for who is coming and going from the town building.

The state has also made money available to help local municipalities improve their courts facilities with maximum grants up to $30,000 a year. The court would like to apply for another JCAP grant, this time for security cameras.

The town also received a $75,000 state grant through Sen. Robert Ortt’s office. That will fund an enclosure by the front entrance, which will make the building more energy efficient and provide some protection from bad weather for people coming to the building.

The funds will add some insulation, and also replace siding, some windows, and the exit door in the downstairs. Those projects should be complete by Dec. 1. Klips Construction in Albion is the low bidder for the projects.

The Town Hall was built in 1991. After 26 years, Culhane said the building needed some upgrades.

(Editor’s Note: This article was updated from an earlier version.)

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