REED CITY -- The Osceola County Board of Commissioners has implemented new security measures at the county courthouse.

A posting on the county website states security screening of the public began Feb. 3 at the north entrance of the main courthouse at 301 W. Upton Ave. All visitors to the courthouse are to enter through the north entrance. The east entrance on Park Street will be for employee access only.

An X-ray machine has been installed at the north entrance, and all visitors must be screened upon entering.

The board approved a contract with DK Security services to monitor the north entrance and ensure all visitors to the building enter through the X-ray machine.

Osceola County Coordinator Susan Vander Pol said at a previous meeting that the county will be issuing keyless entry fobs to all employees that work in the building along with off-site county employees and contractors that frequent the building.

County clerk Karen Bluhm expressed concern about issuing fobs to those who do not work in the building.

"If we start going outside this building and handing out fobs, it's going to get out of hand," Bluhm said. "I feel like we are losing security, the more fobs we hand out."

BOC member Jim Custer agreed saying, everybody entering the building should have to go through screening.

"I feel like the policy should err on the side of being more restrictive," BOC chairman Jack Nehmer added. "There shouldn't be a problem with people adjusting their day in order to be able to come through the screening entrance."

BOC member Mark Gregory, chairman of the Health, Safety and Grounds Committee, said it didn't make sense to him to have every employee go through the screening every day since they will be recorded on video coming and going as it is.

"Employees have to have access to the building," Gregory said. "It was never the intent that every county employee would have a fob, just those that are frequently in the building as part of their routine business."

Vander Pol added, it had been the board's position to not have employees have to come through security.

"Anybody coming in the north door will be screened," Vander Pol said. "The only way to enter without being screened is to use the employee entrance with the keyless entry.

"As the policy stands now, if you are a county employee and are in the building regularly, you will get a fob. I think that will be fewer fobs than you are expecting."

Vander Pol said each fob will have a serial number that will be assigned to a particular employee, and if someone else uses it, there will be a recording of them coming in the building.

"That would be in violation of the board's policy, and require disciplinary action," she said.

Gregory said he understands this is a big change and there will be a learning curve for everyone.

"We may have to make some changes as we go," he said. "We had to have a starting point, and the policies the board is adopting is that. I'm sure the subject will be revisited once we get started. If we find out what we're doing is too liberal, we can dial it back."

The board voted to adopt the security for employees and authorized independent contractors policy during the meeting.

For updates on the county security measures, visit osceola-county.org.