Amid concerns, director says library is safe

Oct 4, 2017 By Daniel Bendtsen, Staff Writer

Despite the "escalating issues" at Riverton's library this past month, Fremont County library director Janette McMahon said patrons shouldn't feel unsafe while using the facility.

"The library is safe, but we want to maintain that," she said.

Fremont County is closing the courthouse Oct. 9 at the request of the Courthouse Security and Safety Committee, which will conduct mandatory safety training for all courthouse employees.

McMahon said the timing is "serendipitous," as J.R. Oakley, who chairs the security committee, also is working with library officials on ideas to reduce security concerns at the Riverton library.

Riverton's library manager, Shari Haskins, said last week that a nearby homeless shelter and the Center of Hope detox facility have exacerbated issues at the library, as have unsupervised children who head for the library after school. Riverton Middle School is nearby.

Fremont County Commission chairman Travis Becker said he was skeptical of putting blame on the Center of Hope for increased instances of intoxication, especially because the detox center is aimed at getting drunk people off the street.

"I'm having a little bit of trouble understanding what their concerns are," he said. "The Center of Hope has nothing to do with (increasing) drunks on the street."

Center of Hope is 1.1 miles from the library.

Haskins said in her monthly report to the library board that September was filled with issues involving drunk people.

A staff member found a man passed out Sept. 14 in a bathroom stall. He was so drunk he couldn't be waked.

"Two police officers had to drag the man out the front doors with a trail of urine and vomit," Haskins said.

Haskins said a woman was assaulted at the library Sept. 18 by an inebriated man.

Another person had been living and sleeping underneath a tree by the children's department's back door, where human feces was found.

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