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New security measures in place at Van Buren municipal complex

Monday (July 21) was the first day of Van Buren's new security measures at its municipal complex.

District Court was not in session at the complex Monday, making it easier to introduce the new security measures which include an X-ray machine to inspect belongings and a walk-through metal detector at the entrance of the courthouse.

Van Buren Mayor Bob Freeman let city aldermen know they could receive an identification badge to freely enter the building during regular business hours, but noted that everyone else would have their belongings inspected by the X-ray machine and would have to walk through the metal detector, what he was calling a body scanner.

He said the number of mass shootings in public places, including a shootout at the Crawford County Courthouse just down the street from the municipal complex, had led to the security measures on full display Monday.

Freeman said he was unsure of the cost of the metal detector that was bought from circuit clerk's office, but said the X-ray machine cost about $15,000, adding that an associated computer equipment and a chair for a city police officer to use while on duty at the complex brought the total to about $20,000.

The annual cost for manning the security station at the entrance to the complex will run about $55,000, Freeman said, adding that the cost included salary and benefits for the police officer on duty.

In other business, the Van Buren City Council approved an ordinance that allows individuals living within the city to commute by golf cart between their homes and a golf course using a golf cart.

Freeman told the city council that the city did not previously have a law addressing the issue, but noted that state law allows for golf cart commuting to a golf course along city streets and said the action by the city council Monday was a "clean up action" and noted that individuals had been driving golf carts to the golf course without problems for quite some time. City Alderman Johnny Ragsdale chimed in and said, "I've been doing it for years."

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Freeman said the state did not state how far an individual could commute by golf cart, just so long as it was from the individual's home to the golf course. The only golf course within Van Buren city limits is at the city park.

Police Chief Kenneth Bell noted that state traffic laws would apply to golf cart drivers.

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