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New electronic doors installed at courthouse for better access

Disabled residents using the county courthouse can now find some ease in entry as officials have installed new electronic doors to provide better handicapped access to the building.
Even though the previous doors were sufficient for handicapped entry, Unicoi County Mayor Greg Lynch said he had fielded numerous calls from citizens over the years outlining the burden of entering the courthouse.
“I had people who requested some better access to the courthouse,” Lynch said. “It is going to be a really good feature.”
The electronic doors will feature automatic push-button access for both entry and exit of the rear courthouse, along with a time delay that will keep doors open for a short period.
Access to the courthouse may now be easy, but, for Lynch, the process of providing that access was anything but simple.
Lynch said he began the process of upgrading the handicapped doors nearly three years ago after hearing complaints and witnessing, firsthand, the problems some citizens faced.
He told the story of seeing a disabled man struggle to pass with his oxygen tank through the doors, saying he knew something needed to be done.
“I felt bad that day,” Lynch said.
Lynch said he tried to convince the county commissioners to approve funding for a new system, but said he had problems getting approval from commissioners.
So, this year, Lynch said he took it upon himself to improve the ease of access to the building by finding funds from the current budget to purchase and install the new system.
“This is really a huge improvement,” Lynch said.
Lynch added that the doors themselves are not the only upgrade of handicapped accessible features, as he is working with the town of Erwin to improve parking and sidewalk access.
The current parking lot construction project behind the courthouse will feature sloped curb cutouts for wheelchairs, and Lynch said the same feature will be installed near the courthouse doors.
“We will have good handicapped access from the parking lot to the courthouse,” Lynch said. “There will be several handicapped places in front of the parking lot.”
The doors have been installed and are currently operational, and the parking lot is scheduled to be completed in the coming weeks.
Signage outlining handicapped entry has been placed at the front of the courthouse and Lynch says more signs will be placed around the building.
The mayor said he was pleased with the project and the fact he could address the concerns of the public, even though it took a little longer than expected.
“I listened – it just sometimes takes a while to get things done,” Lynch said.