State yet to respond to lease requests

Published 10:42 am Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Three weeks after making its requests for a potential lease to take over part of the Ohio River Valley Juvenile Correctional Facility, the county is still waiting to see if the state agrees with what it wants.

“We haven’t heard a word,” County Commissioner Bill Pratt said. “I initially thought it would be in a couple of weeks.”

Earlier this year the state department of corrections offered the county the now closed ORVJC in Scioto County for its new jail after the current facility had come under repeated criticism for failing state inspections.

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The county would use a 100-bed unit of the ORVJC while STAR Community Justice Center would expand its rehabilitation operation into the remainder of the center.

On May 15, Pratt, sheriff Jeff Lawless, chief deputy Jeff Hitchcock and prosecuting attorney Brigham Anderson met with state correctional officials over the terms of a lease should the county agree to use part of the ORVJC.

The county requested a triple net lease where the state would remain owner of the facility as well as pay for maintenance and utilities. The county also wants a variance on the number of corrections officers required, if the move were made, to be reduced to 30 or 32.

A vote is expected this week by both houses of the General Assembly on House Bill 483. In that bill is an amendment that will give Lawless jurisdiction within the 100-bed unit of the ORVJC, even though the facility is in another county.

“We also put in language to allow Brigham Anderson to be able to prosecute on the campus,” Rep. Ryan Smith, R-93, said.

That would be needed if there were an incident inside the facility.

Pratt plans to call state officials today to see what progress has been made on the lease requests.