The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Local News

November 20, 2012

Commissioners assess bomb-scare response at courthouse

Most people evacuated fast, but some stubborn

ANDERSON, Ind. — Last week’s bomb scare at the Madison County Government Center demonstrated the value of planning and drills but also revealed that there’s room for improvement.

The vast majority of county employees and citizens in the building at the time evacuated quickly, without any panic, and responsibly gathered at their pre-determined assembly areas, members of the Board of County Commissioners said Tuesday.

But not everyone. And that’s a problem, said Commissioners John Richwine, R-North District; Steffanie Owens, R-South District; and Jeff Hardin, D-Middle District.

A couple of employees either ignored the commissioners’ evacuation order or didn’t take it seriously.

At least 20 minutes after Madison County sheriff’s deputies cordoned off the area around the building and began searching for the alleged explosives, one worker came strolling slowing out munching on a bag of popcorn.

What prompted the evacuation was a two-page letter commissioners received through the U.S. Postal Service last Wednesday.

The letter claimed several explosive devices had been placed somewhere in the government center, threats directed to Prosecutor Rodney Cummings and other officials.

The building was searched thoroughly and no explosives were found. On Thursday, authorities arrested Cheryl R. Boyer, 42, of West County Road 375 north. She was charged with one count of Class D felony false reporting, and is currently being held in the Madison County Jail.

While Boyer’s alleged threats were eventually traced to an apparent domestic dispute, according to court documents, these are not times when people can take chances, commissioners said.

Hardin and Owens both said they were disappointed with the cavalier attitude a small number of employees seemed to have.

As a result, the commissioners asked County Attorney Jim Wilson to draft a new policy that would bar employees who don’t leave promptly when ordered from re-entry until there’s been a discussion with the worker’s supervisor and a personal improvement plan is implemented, Richwine said.

“For the few that blatantly ignored the prospect of trouble, we just can’t have that anymore,” Richwine said.

They also will advise government center employees to take keys, coats and other essential personal belongings with them when they leave.

The commissioners eventually said employees were free to leave for the day, but many were stuck because their keys were in the building.

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