Shawano City Hall adds security measures

Shawano Leader, Wisconsin/November 28, 2008

Security improvements at Shawano City Hall are near completion, meaning the building will be easily accessible to the public soon.

The changes were partially in response to the investigation of the "implied threat" of 60 individuals in Shawano, including several elected city officials.

"We've taken additional safety precautions at City Hall," said Mayor Lorna Marquardt. "But we should have done that in the past. Maybe this gave us a little nudge."

Employees of the city's Park and Rec. Department on Wednesday were installing a glass partition at City Hall's main counter.

Other changes include the installation of a door to a hallway leading to several offices. People wanting to see the city administrator, the city clerk/treasurer or the building inspector and the BID coordinator will have to stop at the counter.

"The receptionist could buzz them down, or the person being seen can come up," Marquardt said.

Also, a metal door has been installed at Marquardt's office, as well as a buzzer that will allow visitors to enter.

A keyless entry system for employees is also being installed this week. Employees will have keycards to allow them into the building and through the locked doors.

Even though her door will be closed, Marquardt said she'll still maintain an "order door" policy so citizens can see her.

"I like being up front, and when (visitors) come, I can still buzz them in," she said. "Part of me wishes we didn't have to do these security things, but it makes common sense and I understand the need for it."

The cost of the improvements was not available Wednesday afternoon, though much of the work was done by city employees.

On Nov. 6, the day after the "implied threat" investigation was disclosed to about 40 of the people at a meeting, the main doors to City Hall were locked. Since then, the only access to the building has been through the adjacent Shawano Police Station.

Marquardt said she hasn't observed any indication of danger or problem since then, but that doesn't mean she doesn't take it seriously.

"The fact that the FBI is investigating, I'd be foolish not to take it for real," Marquardt said.

"Is it going to alter the way I do things? Absolutely," Marquardt said. "Is it going to stop me from visiting downtown businesses and going to restaurants and shopping? Absolutely not."

However, Marquardt said she will stay out of this year's Santa Parade on Dec. 5, held in conjunction with the Holiday Stroll.

"It does make common sense, given the situation, so maybe it's not a prudent thing to do," she said.

But no one should make too much of that, she added.

"I think the people who go to the parade go to see the floats, the bands and the lights," Marquardt said. "I don't think anyone cares if the elected people are in the parade."

But she won't be absent from the event. She plans to help the Rotary Club with its fundraiser selling chili and popcorn.

"I'd just as soon spend my time working for an organization and mixing with the people who come downtown," Marquardt said.

BID coordinator Charlene Helms said public officials decide each year whether or not to participate in the event, which starts at 6 p.m.

"The real stars of the parade are the beautiful floats, all lit up for the season, and of course, Santa," Helms said.

An FBI spokesman could not be reached for information on the status of the investigation.

"I'm conscious it's there, but it's not going to rule my life," Marquardt said. "I have faith things will be OK."

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.