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Staffing concern for new jail plan

County commissioners want to know how much money it will take to run a new jail – the first step in winning state funding for the future project.

Monday, October 16, 2000

County commissioners want to know how much money it will take to run a new jail – the first step in winning state funding for the future project.

"We believe that it’s time now to ask for a complete plan for construction and operation of a facility," county commission president Bruce Trent said Thursday.

Commissioners met in executive session with judges Richard Walton and Frank McCown, jail administrator Brian Deer and their attorney.

Trent announced afterward that county security staffing is at adequate levels but there is a need to consider a pro-active plan for more corrections employees if the county is to build a new jail.

"We do know a new facility would require more employees," he said. "We don’t know at what level or cost."

The commission voted unanimously to ask Doug Cade of the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization to study the situation.

Such a move would require a contract for professional services, although a cost has not been determined, Trent said.

Cade would develop a general construction plan and a list of potential costs associated with a new jail.

Commissioners have studied the idea most of the year, hearing proposals from at least two jail developers as well as visiting jails in Nelsonville and Xenia.

The county feels it can handle building the jail, considering the state will cover most of the financing. But the operations and personnel costs are the real issues, Trent said.

The state and grant issuers require counties to prove they can pay for the operation of a jail before handing out dollars, so a thorough study is needed first, he said.

The study would include a look at land acquisition issues and state standards, Trent said.

Deer called the commission’s decision the most positive step yet toward meeting the county’s need for an up to date jail.

"We’ve had some talk about it but this is the most hope I’ve had," he said.

The need is there because the jail is overcrowded and outdated, Deer said.

A state jail inspector toured the facility Wednesday when 73 inmates occupied cells – 21 over the limit, he said.

The jail inspector’s report should arrive in November.

In other action Thursday, commissioners:

– Asked 911 administrator Don Mootz to look into radio reception trouble in the Chesapeake, Rome, Athalia and Windsor areas.

– Voted to study a sheriff’s request for an additional $50,000 appropriation. The request will be considered on a monthly basis, commissioners said.