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The new security screeners who will operate a metal detector safeguarding the "courts" side of the Becker County Courthouse will also serve as greeters for people with business on the other side of the courthouse, said Sheriff Tim Gordon.

The three part-time screeners will wear civilian clothes, not uniforms. "It's a suit-and-tie position," he said.

"The position will be multi-faceted," Gordon told the County Board Tuesday. "In addition to security, the screeners will assist the general public coming in south of the courts."

When the courts addition was built a few years ago, the original main entrance to the courthouse was chained off and a new main entrance built between the courts addition and the original courthouse.

Those with court business turn to the left once they enter, those with other business turn to the right, then usually have to go upstairs to find the auditor-treasurer, recorder or assessor's offices.

That can be confusing to people entering the courthouse, and the screeners can give directions, Gordon said.

By mid-March, Gordon expects to have hired and trained the screeners, who will report directly to him or his chief deputy.

The new screeners are expected to cost a total of about $40,000 for the remainder of this fiscal year. The money will come from not filling the vacant chief bailiff position, he said.

"It's been a long planning process for this," he said, "going back to the actual design of the building."

Commissioner Gerry Schram complimented Gordon on his plan.

"This is a really great opportunity to thank you, Sheriff Gordon, for getting more for the taxpayers' buck," he said.

"The timing was perfect," added Commissioner Barry Nelson. The chief bailiff retired just as the issue of courthouse security returned with the December shooting of a prosecutor and a witness at the Cook County Courthouse. Both men recovered. The gunman died in jail.

The Becker County Board unanimously authorized Gordon to advertise the new position and hire three part-time screeners.