• 39°

Youth jail could become regional facility for adults

The former juvenile prison in Franklin Furnace may be one step closer to becoming a regional jail for adult offenders.

Commissioners from Lawrence, Scioto, Adams and Pike counties have will tour the onetime Ohio River Valley Juvenile Correctional Facility on May 16 to consider potentially re-opening it as a county jail.

That invitation was announced by Commission President Bill Pratt at the county commissioners’ Thursday meeting.

Pratt had no more information from the state. A call to the press office of the Ohio Department of Youth Services was referred to the media office of the state’s department of administrative services. The DYS operated the Franklin Furnace when it was a juvenile facility.

The department of administrative services is handling “the real estate process for repurposing that building,” Kim Parsell, public information officer for the DYS, said.

A call made to Beth Gianforcaro of the state department of administrative services was not returned by press time.

The Lawrence County Jail has long been in violation of state standards including overcrowding. Recently county and state officials met to try to resolve some of these issues.

Pratt has said he would like the state to open the Franklin Furnace facility back up turning it into an adult regional jail where the county would lease out a section.

Sheriff Jeff Lawless said he welcomes looking at the juvenile jail as an answer to the county jail situation

“I don’t think Lawrence County can afford to run the facility,” Lawless said. “What we need is to have a lot of help from the state. The state would open that up and allow us to run it and provide us with the means to keep it open to keep criminals off the street.”

In other action the commission:

• Approved increasing the number of directors on the county port authority contingent on Ironton City Council dissolving the Ironton Port Authority;

• Canceled the contract between the county and Teledoc that provided medical services for employees due to lack of use;

• Appointed the following to the county local emergency planning committee: Steven Harrison, Kevin Callihan, Patricia McCullough and Kristinia Blankenship;

• Approved AEP Energy to install a pulse output meter for customer billing at the Union-Rome sewer plant.