By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
Rob Eaton walked into a mess this morning on his first day on the job as director of security for the Wood County Courthouse Complex.
“I walked in and there are alarms going off everywhere. I thought – Holy Toledo,” Eaton said this morning.
The phones were down because of a system-wide problem with the phone lines, causing the alarms to blare at the courthouse.
“It was baptism by fire,” Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn said as he introduced Eaton to the county commissioners this morning.
The phones were back in service by 8:20 a.m.
Eaton has been with the sheriff’s office for 26 years, starting on the corrections staff, moving to road patrol, serving on the Special Response Team, and most recently in the civil division. He also served 14 years in the Army National Guard.
Eaton will receive an annual salary of $65,894.
He has no plans to change operations in courthouse security, set up under his predecessor Becky Ewing.
“I’m looking forward to this challenge of working with everyone,” he said.
Since October, the security at the courthouse complex has been divided. The sheriff’s office is in charge of the grounds, buildings and entrances. The court constables, led by Ron Dicus, are in charge of the courtrooms and adult probation.
The primary challenge of the job is clear, Eaton said.
“Making sure everyone is safe,” from the public to county employees, he said.
At the same time, citizens must feel the courthouse complex is a public facility, Wasylyshyn said.
“There’s a tough balance between making everyone feel welcome” and making sure they are save, the sheriff said.
Also during his meeting with the county commissioners, Wasylyshyn reported that security staff members are now offering fingerprinting in the atrium at the request of the judges. He also mentioned that the security staff is trying to be more visible in the courthouse and county office building.
The commissioners acknowledged seeing the staff throughout the complex.