Area high school sophomores and juniors took a closer look at how local government can play a role in our everyday lives during the seventh annual Government Day.
The day-long lesson March 13 hosted 114 students from California, Tipton and Jamestown. The assembly and eventual tour of the Moniteau County Courthouse was kicked off with the presentation of colors by representatives with the American Legion Edgar Cole Post 304 from Tipton. The American Legion sponsored the event.
Rebekah Farmer, a junior at California, said her classmates were given a survey on what they would like to learn most: local government was one of the options on that survey.
Farmer said Tipton was given the same survey while Jamestown juniors and sophomores were required to attend Government Day.
Attending the event and explaining their duties were multiple public officials, including Presiding Commissioner Mac Finley, First District Commissioner Greg Robinson, Assessor Amanda Trimble, County Clerk Roberta Elliott, Collector Ellen Ash, Coroner Marty Ramsdell, Treasurer Sarah Jones, Associate Circuit Judge Aaron Martin, Circuit Clerk and Recorder of Deeds Mandy Burger, Prosecuting Attorney Mary Kay Lutz, Public Administrator Cher Caudel, and a deputy and investigator from the Moniteau County Sheriff's Office.
For Tipton junior James Cox, the court house was especially intriguing. "I'm excited to go to the courthouse. I've actually never been in there," he said.
Most of the students had never set foot in the courtroom, which Jones said was the only one in the county courthouse. Ushering the students in the courtroom was Lt. Skyler Viebrock, who acts as bailiff for court proceedings and is also the jailer for the Moniteau County Jail.
Once everyone was settled in the gallery, a term introduced during the start of the tour, Viebrock called for the members of the court to rise as Associate Circuit Judge Aaron Martin came to the bench.
Martin explained the ins and outs of his week including a brief discussion on the different types of courts the county sees.
"On Tuesdays, I see the criminal docket, and Wednesdays are for civil court," Martin said. "I take care and hear all claims that are less than $25,000 and small claims that are less than $5,000. I also take care of domestic cases, child custody arrangements, divorces and real estate cases. I'm also in charge of the inmates at Tipton. So if an inmate has an issue while in prison there, they would come to me."
Presentations in the courtroom also were made by Mandy Burger, circuit clerk and recorder of deeds, and Mary Kay Lutz, prosecuting attorney.
Students were split into different groups to tour the offices of the courthouse and the jail.
Once inside the Moniteau County Jail, the students got to see where prisoners are kept and even got to visit the recreation area.
Viebrock said inmates are given the option to walk the area once a week for one hour. The students learned the jail was at full capacity as of March 13 with 55 inmates from Moniteau, Greene, Morgan and Pulaski counties currently housed there.
"The jail was really interesting," Farmer said. "It was so cool to see what it looked like in there. I also had no idea what all went down in the court system."