Commissioners discuss new justice center site

| November 20, 2017

COSHOCTON – The Coshocton County Commissioners met on Monday, Nov. 20 with Ken Fisher of Fisher Law Firm in Columbus to discuss the next steps for building a new justice center. Because of the replacement of the Medicaid MCO sales tax, the commissioners have not been able to start construction on the new justice center.

The current county jail is still overpopulated with a capacity of 15 individuals pushed to at least 80 at one time. As of time of print, there were 69 people currently incarcerated in a building that is not meant to house such a large number of people.

“This isn’t something we want to do,” said Commissioner Dane Shryock. “It’s something we have to do. We’re busting at the seams, especially with the opioid crisis and all the people who have been affected by that. It’s not how we’re keeping the people who are incarcerated. It’s how are we keeping our officers safe when housing the people that need to be in there.”

The commissioners have contracted with Wachtel-McAnally as the architect and Fisher said the next step for the commissioners should be to do a preliminary consulting service that has been contracted with Wachtel-McAnally for $10,000.

The commissioners also asked about doing environmental studies. Fisher said that as long as the commissioners are committed to the site, the former Central School lot, they should go ahead with the environmental studies and site development. The commissioners assured Fisher that they are committed to the site.

One concern the commissioners raised was the fill material on the site. Fisher said that drilling a couple of four-inch holes on the site to see what’s there can help, but they won’t be able to tell until they start digging for the foundation.

Fisher suggested engaging a construction manager after the commissioners have an idea of what the project needs to entail. He suggested having the architect work on a program of requirements for the jail and then construct a preliminary design which would include the shape of the building and the layout of the interior of the building. A construction manager ranges in cost about two to three percent of the total cost.

The commissioners recently took a tour of the jail with state representatives Larry Householder and Jay Hottinger.

“We can sit here and look at numbers all day, housing 80 people in a facility meant for 15, but until you walk through there and see those people standing on top of each other, elbow to elbow, all it would take is one disagreement for things to get out of hand,” said Commissioner Gary Fischer. “And then we’ve got two correction officers in charge of those 80 people. It’s not only the safety of the people incarcerated, but also the safety of our officers that we’re concerned about.”

Shryock said there is also no room in the current facility to address the “revolving door” issue, people coming back to jail for the same offense. The new building would need to have room for educational and intervention counselling.

The next step for the commissioners moving forward is to consult with the architect and see what condition the property is in and do an environmental study.

The commissioners also reviewed and approved:

  • A motion to receive and review the treasurer’s investment portfolio as well as the October Bank Statement as presented by Cathy Williamson, Coshocton County Treasurer’s Office
  • A motion granting a 2018 blanket meeting request for the board of elections and staff members to attend meetings directly related to the board of elections and Ohio Association of Elections Officials (OAEO) for the 2018 calendar year
  • A motion to sign the Sandy Hill Acres (private road) plat. The property is owned by Junior and Anna Barkman and located in Crawford Township off of State Route 643 and approved during the executive committee meeting of the Regional Planning Commission on Nov. 13.

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Category: Government

About the Author ()

I have been employed at the Coshocton County Beacon since September 2009 as a news reporter and assistant graphic artist. I am a 2004 graduate of Newcomerstown High School and a 2008 graduate of Capital University with a bachelor’s degree in Professional Writing. I am married to John Scott and live in Newcomerstown. We have two beautiful daughters, Amelia Grace Scott and Leanna Rose Scott.

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