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Carter Courthouse opening Thursday after training exercise

Staff Reports • Mar 26, 2013 at 9:48 PM

ELIZABETHTON — Business will not be as usual at the Carter County Courthouse on Thursday until 10 a.m.

The reason for the late start in getting down to business is because all the offices in the courthouse will take part in an evacuation exercise that will also test the new assembly area at First Free Will Baptist Church.

Alex Lester, operations officer for the Carter County Emergency Management Agency, said the exercise was developed at the request of the Courthouse Security Committee and Circuit Court Judge Jean Stanley. Lester said it has been jointly planned by the Emergency Management Agency and the Carter County Sheriff’s Department, and offices in the courthouse will participate.

“It is being done for life, safety and property preservation,” Lester said.

Courthouse security has been more closely scrutinized since Carter County was one of several across the state that received a bomb threat last fall. One of the problems uncovered was the assembly area for evacuated employees was in uncovered parking lots. These were not only uncomfortable in the rain, but it was felt the parking lot was too close for safety.

Since that time, county commissioners have talked with First Free Will Baptist about using the church’s property for the assembly area for the courthouse and also for the residents of the neighboring Courthouse Apartments.

The exercise will be completed before 10 a.m. and the courthouse will be open to the public at that time.

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