published Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Hamilton County Commission to vote on court bench

Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger
Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger
Photo by Dan Henry /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

After today's County Commission meeting, Hamilton County's Sessions Court judges may be sitting a little higher in a new, $8,000 bench and the sheriff could add 18 Tasers to his arsenal.

Commissioners will meet at 9:30 a.m. today in Room 401 at the County Courthouse on Georgia Street.

Among other things, the commission is being asked to increase the Sessions Court maintenance budget by $8,000 to build a new bench in Courtroom No. 6, which was a jury room until it was refitted to hold court, according to Mayor Jim Coppinger.

"The judges want the bench raised to offer not only more protection, but you can also see what the judges are writing, which I can understand might not be good," Coppinger said.

The $8,000 price tag seems steep, Coppinger said, but law requires a judge's bench to be more than the average highchair.

The bulk of the cost is required to fortify the judge's seat against bullets and other attacks, Coppinger said.

Sheriff Jim Hammond also is set to ask the commission to approve the purchase of 18 Tasers for his patrolling deputies, at a cost of $24,704. The purchase is budgeted and is 100 percent funded through a Justice Assistance Grant. The purchase requires approval because the cost exceeds $10,000.

The county also will likely approve the purchase of election ballots for the upcoming City of Chattanooga mayoral and City of Collegedale elections. Those will cost taxpayers $17,018, but the two municipalities will reimburse the county.

February also is scheduled to be proclaimed Myeloma Awareness Month, and the commission will hear from Assessor Bill Bennett, a survivor of the disease, along with others.

Commissioner Gregory Beck will also make a presentation for Black History Month.

about Louie Brogdon...

Louie Brogdon began reporting with the Chattanooga Times Free Press in February 2013. Before he came to the Scenic City, Louie lived on St. Simons Island, Ga. and covered crime, courts, environment and government at the Brunswick News, a 17,000-circulation daily on the Georgia coast. While there, he was awarded for investigative reporting on police discipline and other law enforcement issues by the Georgia Press Association. For the Times Free Press, Louie covers Hamilton County ...

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