County building

With the County Administrative Center in the background, the fountains at Rabobank Arena flow into the early evening, in this file photo.

Felix Adamo / TBC Media

The Kern County Administrative Center on Truxtun Avenue will soon be "hardened," most of its entries sealed to all but employees and public access funneled through a security checkpoint on the first floor.

County supervisors voted Tuesday to approve the ordinance that sets the security standards for all county buildings but those at airports, which are governed by federal law.

That paves the way for Kern County General Services to begin the process of closing off the north, east and cafeteria entrances to the first floor of 1115 Truxtun Ave.

All public traffic will be channeled through the south courtyard and entrance to the building.

Michael Turnipseed of the Kern County Taxpayers' Association asked supervisors if they had conducted a risk assessment, analyzed what the move would cost and coordinated their standards with the California State Association of Counties.

Is the board, he asked, going to delay meetings if several hundred people show up just minutes before they're due to start and try to make it through the security checkpoint at once?

Assistant County Administrative Officer Jeff Frapwell, who is overseeing the effort, said the Kern County sheriff's detail that oversees security at Kern County court buildings will be part of the team that mans the security station.

They are, he said, very familiar with shuttling 80 to 90 jurors through a checkpoint in minutes.

Supervisors supported the move unanimously.

"I, for one, am terrified to be in a public building without a metal detector," said Supervisor Leticia Perez.

Her office staff, and those of other supervisors, don't feel safe with the public having free access to the building.

"It's not just us and our staff that are afraid," Perez said.

The public, she said, needs to feel safe.

Kern County Planning Director Lorelei Oviatt said the threats to county employees and leaders isn't a mirage.

She handles high-profile development projects and deals with angry people on occasion during controversial hearings.

Once, during a wind energy project hearing several years ago, she said, "I had an (opponent) try to punch me and punch the developer instead. At some point this building, in the least, needs to be made safer."

Supervisor Mick Gleason called the decision to "harden" 1115 Truxtun a "no-brainer."