(Photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
BENTON - The new Scott County jail is open and holding Scott County prisoners.
"We're in the building and we're operating, but we are still a long way off from being fully operational with the new complex," said Sheriff Bill Ferrell.
The old jail, however, is now empty of prisoners. "We moved them all Friday," said Ferrell. "We're not using it at all right now. We still have some things to move over, but we are operating out of the new facility."
There are some details to be worked out before all the county's prisoners will be brought from the other county jails boarding them for Scott County. "We won't be bringing them in until we have everything 100 percent operational in the new building," said Ferrell.
Among the problems remaining is one with the sewers and plumbing - primarily water pressure for flushing toilets.
"The water pressure was brought up but not as high as we would like to see it," said Jamie Burger, county commissioner. Installation of circulation pumps should start today, he said, and the backflow preventer will be put back on. Burger said he hopes to see the plumbing ready by Friday.
"We need to work around that," said Ferrell. "Then we'll be able to move more people in as the building gets ready."
Ferrell said there is still also some equipment not working properly as well as other small "glitches."
"Anytime you move into a new facility, you have things you don't notice until you get in there," Burger said.
"We'll get them all worked out," said Ferrell. "Its got a lot of small details. The devil's in the details as far as this facility is concerned."
"We still have a manpower problem," Ferrell continued, adding that the staff he does have on hand is still getting used to the new operation. "We had to change all of our procedures." Visitation is still complicated as well due to the old jail and the lack of parking. "There's a lot of things to work around," Ferrell said.
Nevertheless, officials agreed things are very nice at the new facility.
"We are pleased we got moved and want to hurry up and get the old one razed to make room for the parking lot," Burger said. "The front of the building is really nice looking but it's never been displayed because of the old jail in front. I think everybody will be pleased with the way it looks."
While there are years of history associated with it, Capt. Jim Chambers, jail administrator, said there won't be enough nostalgia for him to miss the old jail when it's gone. "Out with the old and in with the new, and let's bring this thing into the 21st century," Chambers said.