Luzerne County Courthouse visitors must use the building's rear entrance from now on, in part because the security department lost two guards through layoffs, officials say.
County Manager Robert Lawton said the administration examined courthouse ingress and determined the rear entrance is the most convenient for the general public, prompting the closure of the southern entrance that will no longer be staffed by security guards.
Lawton said the rear entrance is the only one accessible to people with disabilities because it has an elevator for those who can't climb steps.
The rear entrance also is closer to the courthouse parkade, which is the designated public parking area for the courthouse, he said.
Parking spaces in a lot at the rear of the courthouse and across the street on River Street are numbered and marked as reserved for employees, though some spots are available to people with disabilities.
The River Street courthouse entrance will be programmed to accept employee badges in a few weeks so workers on the eastern side of the building won't have to walk around the courthouse to reach the rear entrance, said county Security Director and interim Sheriff John Robshaw.
Employees also are permitted to use a secondary emergency entrance at the rear of the building with their badges so they don't contribute to congestion at the public entrance, he said.
The unmanned security scanning station at the south entrance will be kept in case the entrance must be used in the future, he said.
The River Street lot eventually will be designated solely for employees and citizens accessing the courthouse annex, which houses the deeds and assessor's office and soon register of wills, he said.
The security department went from 18 to 16 guards with layoffs that took effect Dec. 3, he said.
The county's 2013 budget calls for the layoff of 27 employees, officials say.
To date, 14 employees have been furloughed in addition to the two in security. The breakdown, by department: assessor's, two; prison, eight; mapping, one; 911, one; and wills, two.
The 11 remaining layoffs of one detective and 10 court employees are expected to occur before the end of the year, officials say.