Safety measures important, but fear counter-productive

By Lnn Moncus

The article about the dangers of being in the Quay County Courthouse caused many memories to erupt as I recalled the 11 years during which Dad was Quay County Sheriff, and we lived in the Sheriff’s Residence on the third floor. Of course, to those of us who were around when that courthouse was dedicated in 1939, it still remains “the new courthouse” in our minds. The “old courthouse,” sheriff’s residence, and jail were quite impressive, but the new one was very special and modern to behold as it grew on that terrace on Third Street.

Although we always knew we were in a bit of danger while living there because the jail was on the fourth floor just above, we rarely became excited. The various county officers didn’t indicate their fear as they entered and left the building each day, but they knew to duck under their desks in the event they heard a little gun fire in the area. Actually, most of us felt as safe in the courthouse as we felt almost anywhere else in town and might have been even more safe than had we been at some locations when gun fire was breaking out.
The officials felt reasonably secure because the sheriff and his deputies were in an office on the first floor and could appear quickly should they be needed. Those officers were also in the courtroom during trials and did their utmost to protect the public in the event of a little upheaval during a trial. When the office was moved to the fourth floor, some people wondered about the more limited safety of those officials below, but no one really became upset. Besides, the prisoners were no longer housed in the courthouse and posed less danger than when they could escape and go down the elevator. At least, the sheriff once had the advantage of having that elevator locked and could check it when any danger was eminent.

That first elevator was quite special but was so slow for those of us who needed to move from floor to floor in a hurry that we ran up and down those stairs and had time to spare while waiting for the elevator to arrive. I well remember being able to pick up speed at night when I’d come into that dark building late and would have the choice of unlocking the door to the sheriff’s office, unlocking the elevator door, and inching my way up to our home at a snail’s pace. I could land on the third floor, flash the lights to let friends know I had arrived safely, and be inside our home in just about a minute.

The history of that building and its construction is rather interesting to those of us who call Quay County our home. We were a bit overwhelmed to see that shining Georgia marble and to note the aluminum railings that were just coming into being in our country. We admired the bas relief on the third floor balconies and liked to look at the bulls’ heads above the front doors. We were particularly proud of Mr. Mead’s mural and were equally proud of it when Bill Curry refurbished it a few years ago. Some may even remember that the building itself was planned and constructed by a government organization other than the WPA, and others will recall that a local architect had much to do with the planning of that building and others throughout the state and neighboring states.

If we really think about our safety, we can become just a bit skittish wherever we are in our country these days. We just do the best we can and hope no one gets hurt. Yes, some safety measures could be revived and a few others could be added if our officials deem it necessary, but let’s not begin to run scared at all times.