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Security Plan Aims To Maintain Openness Of Capitol Complex

Reported: May. 15, 2014 11:48 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va (Stefano DiPietrantonio) - Security breaches like the one at that bank in Cabell County are exactly the kind of incidents which concern the West Virginia Capitol Building Commission.

For the past several years, there's been a master plan in the works to beef-up security, all over the Capitol campus.

But will added security be a turn-off for visitors?

Steve Canterbury with the commission, said there has been a lot of hands in the planning soup over the last several years, and that alone can delay things. But all three branches of government were involved, and all three have a stake in how this plan turns out.

But being able to drive literally from the street onto the Governor's lawn is going away.

Time never stands still at our busy State Capitol, with thousands of visitors and people who work there every day.

How to secure it, without taking away from its beauty, is the challenge.

"It's just a wonderful place for people to take a walk in the evenings and to lounge and enjoy and that won't change," Canterbury said.

What will change Canterbury said, are some peripheral boundaries.

"This will be inviting, not exclusive," he said.

A bench-height perimeter wall will encompass the Capitol, made out of limestone, the same material as the Capitol.

"This Capitol is wide-open for people to come in,” said Canterbury. “There are over a dozen doors, anybody can enter any of them."

There are no metal detectors. No security gauntlets.

"You come in and wander around all day, if you want, nobody minds, and I think that's the openness that we like in West Virginia and want to maintain," Canterbury said.

"This is the fourth Capitol we've stopped at on our trip, and it's beautiful and we want to be able to see it and get into the place and look at it," Rod Bjerke, who was visiting with his family from Crest Hill, Ill, said.

He was grateful, but surprised how open our Capitol is.

"This day and age, where it's just too troubling, and too many things happen to good people," Bjerke said.

Duwayne Nielsen of Sacramento, California understands our security needs all too well.

"Several years back, they had a guy drive a semi right up into the side of the building because he was mad about something and it actually caught on-fire and did quite a bit of damage," Nielsen said.

Phase One is a decorative fence around the Governor's Mansion, keeping in tune with architect Walter Martin's 1921 designs.

"We have to protect the Capitol,” Canterbury said. “We have to protect the people who work here, and we have to protect the Governor's Mansion for goodness sakes."

Bidding for Phase One of the project, the ornamental gates around the Governor's Mansion, has started. Projected cost is about $1 million, which is what they have, about $1 million in the budget for it. So look for that to begin soon. No word yet on when that peripheral limestone wall will be built around the rest of the Capitol Complex.



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