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Sheriff expresses facemask concerns

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CountysealBy Tony Farkas
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GROVETON — While facemasks have been considered  necessary for personal safety, Trinity County Sheriff Woody Wallace feels masks are causing a safety concern.

At the Nov. 23 County Commissioners Court meeting, Wallace said he does not feel comfortable with people walking into a courtroom on an 80-degree day with a mask that covers their face.

“ I think it’s a safety concern, and it’s a safety concern to walk around the courthouse grounds with a mask on,” he said. “The only people in the world that I know of that wear masks are robbers.”

Wallace said he is asking for some sort of safety precaution to be put in place. 

“I don’t let my deputies wear a mask, because I don’t like someone walking down the street with a gun and a mask on,” he said. “COVID is pretty much over with, and the Supreme Court has decreed that some minimal standards be put in place, but nowhere does it say they must wear a mask.”

County Judge Doug Page said that in his courtroom, if someone comes in and feels they must wear a mask, the bailiff will take them outside to find out who they are.

However, County Attorney Colton Hay said that he has reviewed the order, and while the Sheriff has jurisdiction over security for the courthouse grounds, district judges set standards for activities within the courtroom itself.

“I think a suggestion to the district judge is about as far as you can go,” Hay said. “I don’t really know if there is any official action you can take right now.”

The county took no action, but did affirm that the Sheriff can take whatever steps necessary in his jurisdiction. Hay also said that courtroom concerns should be made in the form of a suggestion to the district judges.

In other business, the county:

•approved budget amendments for the past and current fiscal years;

•ended an agreement with iWorQ Public Works Services, which provides a software package, at a savings of $4,250 per year; and

•approved a request to seek a $7,266.67 grant for body cameras for law enforcement.

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