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Consultant still being considered

When the county’s jail committee meets in February, it will consider whether it wants to go ahead and hire a consultant to lay the groundwork for solving the problem of the aging facility.

Commission President Bill Pratt likens bringing in a consultant to hiring an architect to design a building. A consultant can provide a path for the county to correct the situation at the jail that continues to be in violation of state requirements for housing inmates.

“And they help you find funding sources for your project,” Pratt said. “In the long run, if we hire a consultant for $50,000 who would be able to come up with a grant for $1 million or $2 million, it would be well worth it in my opinion.”

Until the committee makes it decision, Ralph Kline of the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization is researching grant possibilities, including the Local Government Innovation Fund that can award up to $50,000 for feasibility studies.

“There are four rounds a year,” Pratt said. “If we were able to decide in February that we would want to do it, we would have time to get the grant in.”

For several years the county jail has come under fire from the state for a number of deficiencies including inadequate living area for inmates, lighting and visiting area. The facility has long experienced overcrowding, housing five to six times the number of inmates the state says the jail should have.

Hiring a consultant could pre-empt any state sanctions on the jail, Pratt contends.

“In my opinion, this is something we are trying to solve the problem and prevent (closing the facility) from happening,” he said. “If we are trying to work toward the solution that will help us delay the inevitable.”

When the county’s jail committee meets in February, it will consider whether it wants to go ahead and hire a consultant to lay the groundwork for solving the problem of the aging facility.

Commission President Bill Pratt likens bringing in a consultant to hiring an architect to design a building. A consultant can provide a path for the county to correct the situation at the jail that continues to be in violation of state requirements for housing inmates.

“And they help you find funding sources for your project,” Pratt said. “In the long run, if we hire a consultant for $50,000 who would be able to come up with a grant for $1 million or $2 million, it would be well worth it in my opinion.”

Until the committee makes it decision, Ralph Kline of the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization is researching grant possibilities, including the Local Government Innovation Fund that can award up to $50,000 for feasibility studies.

“There are four rounds a year,” Pratt said. “If we were able to decide in February that we would want to do it, we would have time to get the grant in.”

For several years the county jail has come under fire from the state for a number of deficiencies including inadequate living area for inmates, lighting and visiting area. The facility has long experienced overcrowding, housing five to six times the number of inmates the state says the jail should have.

Hiring a consultant could pre-empt any state sanctions on the jail, Pratt contends.

“In my opinion, this is something we are trying to solve the problem and prevent (closing the facility) from happening,” he said. “If we are trying to work toward the solution that will help us delay the inevitable.”