I have lived in Pulaski County since 1981 and love the Somerset area. My husband is a teacher and I work in a church office. We have two children.
The only reason we’ve had to visit the Somerset courthouse in the past was to pay our taxes and renew our license.
Just recently, we became foster parents and have taken children to the Somerset courthouse on several occasions. They’ve been required to appear for a court hearing on the third floor and for DNA testing on the first floor.
After you hear my story, you will agree there are major needs for those who wait hours at the courthouse – with children.
There are no waiting rooms, just hallways with chairs, along the walls. As you can probably imagine, it’s no fun keeping children occupied and calm for an hour or two in such a confined, busy space. I bring toys, snacks and drinks for the children, because I realize I will be waiting a while.
On the third floor, there is a small 2 x 6 room that is the children’s “play room.” It is small and dirty, with old toys and a TV that only plays VHS tapes (there was only one tape available in the room). You could probably only put four children in there at one time without it becoming too crowded.
On the first floor, there is no such “play room” for children.
Today, I took my foster child for a DNA test on the first floor. I was told to wait in the hallway until they called his name for the testing. There were about five or six other children there with family members waiting also. Their ages ran from about 6 months to 3 or 4 years. My foster child is 2, and quite active, but was playing with his toy and talking and laughing with me and others. The other children were quiet and/or playing quietly. The adults were talking amongst themselves, waiting patiently. Only one little boy started to cry, so one of his parents took him out of the hallway for a while to settle him down.
At that time, Officer Larry Bolin came out and told us hatefully that, “We better keep our kids quiet or he would put us in jail.” Well, I thought he was joking and I grinned at him and he looked at me and said, “I mean it, we are having court right now and we don’t need any noise out here, and if you can’t keep them quiet, I’ll cart you off to jail.”
I asked, “Is there somewhere else we can take the children, maybe a room for them?”
He said, “You can just take them out of here and they’ll come find you when they need you.”
And then he went back into the courtroom. I found out later that Judge Lawless was presiding in that courtroom.
I don’t know if the judge ordered the officer to come “fuss at us,” but the officer handled himself most inappropriately.
I have never been treated in such a manner and was quite shocked at the officer’s demeanor and behavior. I think it is absurd that the court system has no appropriate waiting area for parents/guardians and their children, who are there for hours at a time. It is time that some “major renovations” and changes be made, beginning with decent waiting areas in the courthouse.
People are going on about the animal shelter and how terrible it is. Well, I think we need to think about “human beings” and how our children are being treated in our own courthouse.
I am asking you to look into this matter and see that there is a need for adequate “waiting rooms” at the Somerset courthouse. I look forward to these changes being made in the near future, and am willing to help in this endeavor.
Ramona Jill Napier
Somerset, KY. 42501