What to expect
Anyone entering Hernando County Government Center in downtown Brooksville starting at 7:30 a.m. today is subject to a new security screening system. Checkpoints will greet visitors and employees at the east and west entrances to the atrium with two metal detectors and X-ray machines on each side.
Other ground-level access points to the adjoining historic courthouse and Tax Collector's Office are not affected. However, the second-floor hallway connecting the buildings will be blocked just after the traffic and Guardian ad Litem departments.
The new locations replace individual security stations on the first, third and fourth floors. The changes also restrict access to the building by consolidating the approximately 30 entry points in and around the building to just two main doors.
If you have business at the courthouse this week, expect a line out the door, especially during the peak morning and lunch hours. County officials called this new process "trial and error." Also, one less elevator will take visitors to the upper floors, so expect longer waits inside, too.
What not to bring
No weapons are allowed in the building, including knives. Any metal objects will get placed on an X-ray belt, much like at an airport, prior to walking through the metal detector.
Cell phones are allowed in the building, despite the previous ban from county courtrooms on the third floor. In court, judges request that they be turned off.
Those entering on the parking lot (east) side of the building through the wheelchair entrance will use one elevator that travels only to the first floor. From there, they will proceed through security before accessing the elevators to reach the upper floors.
Why do this?
The changes have been years in the making. The request came from the judicial branch and the Clerk of Court's Office, which were concerned about security inside the broader Government Center.
Initial projections also indicated cost savings, but county officials said this move won't save any money in the short term.
Work in progress
County officials are still working out the kinks and acknowledge that adjustments will be needed as problems arise.