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Friday, Apr. 18, 2014

Fine tuning the jail

Wednesday, July 9, 2003

County commissioners, sheriff review final changes needed for new facility

BENTON - The new county jail's control room needs more control.

Scott County commissioners, Sheriff Bill Ferrell and his key staff members, jail contractors and subcontractors all met during the commission's regular meeting Tuesday to address punchlist and change order items to be resolved before the county signs off on the new facility.

Officials first addressed problems with the sewer grinder installed to prevent large materials flushed by inmates from clogging city lines.

The grinder has already locked up, most recently on Thursday just before the holiday, according to Cpt. Jim Chambers, jail administrator.

Commissioner Jamie Burger said contractors installed a 3.5 horsepower unit for the system when the plans called for a 5 horsepower unit. "I don't think it's something we'll just have to live with," Burger said.

The grinder's alarm system, which monitors rising water to trigger the alarm if the grinder fails and water begins to back up, was also discussed.

The alarm only goes off in the basement, and jail staff need an audible and visible alarm to go off in the control room, as well as a switch for the grinder. "We need something to kill it, keep it from burning up," said Ferrell.

Officials also requested an electric override in the control room for the automatic fire sprinkler system. Three sprinkler heads have already been broken off by inmates, according to jail staff.

Contractors will need to check to make sure an electric shutoff doesn't conflict with fire codes, however.

Jail officials said they need to have a fire alarm panel in the control room, and asked if the main panel in the front foyer could be moved.

"There's nothing in the control room," said Chambers, adding later that installers noted this is the first fire protection system they put in that did not have an additional panel in the jail's control room.

The integrator system does not enable them to shut off the alarm or show any fire information such as which smoke alarm is going off or which sprinklers are on, according to jail officials.

The contractors advised the panel can't be moved from the foyer as fire codes mandate a panel must be located by the building's main access door for firefighters.

Ferrell said he would also like to have manual control over the smoke evacuation fans. He said, for example, if a small fire is set to a mattress it may create enough smoke that fans would be needed to clear the smoke from the room, but not enough to trigger the alarm and activate the fans. "I'd like to be able to just to flip a switch for that particular pod," he said.

They have also had problems with some of the jail's air conditioning units, Farrell, said. "The one in the kitchen quit this week."

Official discussed additional wiring and controls to address security issues related to the elevator and overhead doors and gates for the vehicle entrances.

Emergency lighting and power issues were also discussed.

"We're at capacity," Ferrell reported following the meeting. "We have 107 people in there today."

Ferrell has already moved the female prisoners from their eight-bed pod to a regular pod designed for 16 prisoners. Presently there are 13 women in custody at the jail.

Another pod is being used to segregate problem inmates. Ferrell said it was taken off lockdown Monday after being locked down for two months.

Ferrell said they are still establishing standard operating procedures and policies for the new jail. "We're changing every day," he said. "The main thing is to keep the facility safe."

The chief concern at this point, according to Ferrell, is a manpower shortage.

Ferrell estimated he needs an additional person for each shift, or about eight more people "to maintain security of the building," noting officers usually assigned to bailiff and road deputy duties are assisting in the transportation of prisoners. "We'll be seeking some kind of solution to this problem in the near future," he said.

Another complication at the new jail is the no-smoking policy in effect for both inmates and staff. "That's created some problems for us," he said.

Ferrell explained all the computer equipment makes the smoking ban at the new facility imperative.

In other county business:

* Judge Hense Winchester met with commissioners to discuss a failing window air conditioning unit in his offices.

"It's running for a few minutes, then the compressor kicks off," confirmed Don Jones, county maintenance supervisor.

Jones said Winchester's office is already short one air conditioner and they will need to either get two smaller units or one bigger unit to adequately cool the offices. He recommended a single 23,000 BTU unit.

* The newly-formed Consolidated Drainage District No. 2 will meet at the courthouse and elect a board of supervisors at 7 p.m. July 22.

Landowners within the district get one vote per acre and will select five board members.

Jim Hux, attorney for the county, advised the district will not be able to borrow money from a bank, but may issue bonds and retire them with taxes gathered by the district to complete work on the district's ditches.