GEORGETOWN – The Brown County Adult Detention Center remains closed until at least April according to the Brown County Commissioners while repairs are done to the existing jail doors. However, the doors are not the only issue with the jail. The Commissioners have authorized several other repairs to the jail in order to make it functional.
With every repair done, the cost to refurbish the jail increases at the taxpayer expense. These repairs are all necessary to keep the jail operating. The latest problem has been the HVAC vents in the cells that cut off heating and air conditioning in the jail. Over the course of time the vents have been plugged up but paper towels and toilet paper. The paper has been shoved into the units causing a “paper-mache” effect on the vents.
Inmates stuffed wet paper in the duct work to prevent air from coming through. The rationale behind it leaves the commissioners puzzled.
“In the summer it was too cold, so they (the inmates) were trying to block off cold air and in the summer maybe it was too hot,” Commissioner Tony Applegate said. “I really don’t know the rationale behind it.”
The Commissioners were told that not enough air was getting back to the inmate populations in the jail. They took action to make sure everything was functioning properly to meet the standards provided by the Ohio Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
“In the summer they said we ‘don’t have enough cool air back here,’” Commissioner Barry Woodruff said. “So from the chiller all the way through they have brand new insulation, all new motors, all new exhaust fans. Now we’re looking at plumbing and the doors.”
The plumbing issues are partly the result of years on not using shutoff values or at least testing to keep their functionality. Each individual block of the jail has its own water shutoff. They are all currently stuck in the open position. This makes for a difficult time doing any repairs in each individual cell block.
“The valves are frozen in the open position,” Woodruff said. “So now we have to find someone to come in either repair the valves, which I think is going to be impossible they are 35 years old, or replace that so if you do have a water emergency you can shut off that zone. Now if you have a water emergency you have to shut the whole jail water supply down.”
All of the necessary repairs add up in cost to the taxpayer, but shutting down the Brown County Adult Detention Center may have saved money in the long run to make all the repairs needed.
“What we are getting done and having to do could not be done in an occupied jail I don’t think,” Woodruff said. “It’s been a major undertaking, but necessary.”
On top of the duct work, plumbing, showers, phones, and doors the jail also had a problem with the sewer system.
Several collapsed sewer lines caused sewage backup in the basement of the jail. The sewer line problem also cut the newly replaced phone lines at the jail adding additional expenses to repair those lines for a second time.
The bid to clean the duct work at the Brown County Adult Detention Center came in at over $60,000, a number on which the Commissioners had to do a double take. The cleaning of the duct work is complicated because of how the system is designed for security of the inmates in the facility. Those designs are not making it difficult to get the necessary repairs done to the jail. The Commissioners have sought alternative methods to clean the duct work and get the jail fully functional by April.
By the time the county is finished making all the repairs the taxpayers will be footing a bill close to $750,000.