Improvements to provide easier access to the Rogers County Courthouse for the disabled are being considered by officials.

Prompted by a complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, in June 2005 by John Jenkins concerning courthouse accessibility for disabled persons, county officials entered into discussions addressing the issues mentioned in the complaint. The complaint was filed under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

According to a memo from Rogers County Assistant District Attorney Barry Farbro, Jenkins has a surgically implanted pacemaker and has limited mobility through the use of a motorized wheelchair.

On Monday, the county commission adopted the recommendations made by Rogers County Commission Chairman Mike Helm during a voluntary mediation session on July 21, to make improvements to the facility.

Concerns addressed in the complaint include:

•The door to the southwest-central entrance to the courthouse at the end of the wheelchair accessible ramp is too heavy and difficult to open and keep open from a wheelchair.

•The metal detector and possibly the doorway where entry is gained to the third floor courtroom of District Judge Dynda Post are too narrow for a wheelchair to pass through and the metal chairs placed in the corridor between the elevators and courtroom door make accessibility difficult.

•The security officer at the metal detector was not properly trained to handle a disabled person.

Recommendations to make the courthouse more accessible to disabled persons include:

•Install an automatic door with interior and exterior push buttons at the southwest-central entrance to the courthouse where the wheelchair ramp is located;

•Courthouse security officer and court personnel would receive appropriate training from the county’s insurance company, St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance or other provider, regarding proper methods of dealing with persons who have a disability and experience difficulty in gaining access to public buildings and interior rooms;

•Rogers County would undergo an ADA survey provided by a qualified person or firm in order to obtain recommendations for appropriate public access to the courthouse and interior rooms by disabled persons and to ensure compliance with the ADA.

Rogers County Sheriff Jerry Prather said the metal detector on the third floor could be removed, and replaced with an officer using a metal detector wand. He added that only personnel involved in courthouse security would be trained in this aspect.

The survey is slated to be conducted before Aug. 31, with the ADA compliance plan to be presented on or before Oct. 31. Employee training, as previously stated, will be implemented on or before Jan. 1, 2007.

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