The City of Leon will not be using a Bluestem School District building for a police department and courtroom after all. The Bluestem School Board voted 6-0 on the issue at its meeting Monday night after a discussion involving several area residents.
Bluestem Superintendent Randy Rivers presented a lease agreement to the board but right away suggested it needed amendments, and Board President Damian Korte agreed.
One of the main concerns was over the safety of students who might be using the gymnasium attached to the district’s old central office near High and Olive streets in Leon.
“If we’ve got a little league taking place at the same time as court I don’t want to answer to parents as to why we have suspected criminals 30 feet from our children,” said Korte.
City Commissioner Shelly Martin, who attended the meeting to speak on behalf of the city and to answer any questions, assured the board safety was of the utmost concern of the city also.
“The building will be used mostly for administrative office space,” said Martin. “Court is held one night a month for just two to three hours.”
The city had approached the district about using the mostly vacant building as a police department because their current space is so small officers have to write their reports at the adjacent library and suspects have to wait in the library to see the judge on court night.
The new building would have provided three offices plus a room for court.
Chief of Police Johnny Jones said the courtroom would have also been used for officer training and meetings when court wasn’t in session.
“Having more space would also make us more accessible to the community we are serving,” said Jones.
Members of the community voiced their concerns at the school board meeting saying they didn’t want all of the traffic in their neighborhood or the suspects waiting for court.
“We have kids running around,” said Kerri Young, homeowner. “Are we supposed to not let our kids out on court night?”
Martin says since court is only one night a month traffic shouldn’t be a problem. She also reassured the public those attending court aren’t hardened criminals.
“We are talking about traffic tickets and DUIs,” said Martin. “All felonies are automatically taken to Butler County.”
At the end of the discussion, Board Member Kirk Emmons made a motion to not lease the building to the police department and all of the board members agreed.
Page 2 of 2 - “If it is not going to impact our kids positively then we should walk away,” said Emmons.
Martin said the city has looked at several other options but none were feasible. She says right now there is no “plan b.”