Press-Republican

February 22, 2013

Parts of Essex County Jail wearing out

BY LOHR McKINSTRY
Press-Republican

---- — LEWIS — Some amenities at the new Essex County Jail are starting to wear out, county officials say.

One is carpeting in part of the 120-bed jail off Stowersville Road in Lewis.

Sheriff Richard Cutting recently told the County Board of Supervisors Public Safety Committee he wants to replace it.

“We have flooring that’s pretty worn. Inmates are out (of cells)16 hours a day. Officers are still making rounds. We’re getting the equivalent of 14 shifts of work per week on these floors.”

BOARDING INCOME

The sheriff wanted to use $8,000 in boarding-in money from taking outside inmates to pay for new carpet in three of the jail’s pods or cell blocks.

“Why don’t we just pull the carpet up and paint the concrete?” Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava (R-Moriah) said. “With the budget constraints we’re going through now, I’d never vote to replace carpet in the jail.”

Cutting said the carpet is needed to absorb noise.

“If you put 25 to 30 people in that area, the officer can’t hear the phone. It’s not for cosmetic reasons that carpet is there. It’s for noise dampening.”

The request failed to win support from the committee, though.

“It would appear to me we don’t have anyone who wants to move this,” said Supervisor Randy Preston (I-Wilmington), the Public Safety Committee chair. “It’s a dead issue for now.”

Preston said he was a state correction officer for 10 years and worked in prisons with no carpet without any issues.

“It’s our duty to maintain the building as best we can,” Cutting said.

WARRANTY

Scozzafava later asked County Department of Public Works Superintendent Anthony LaVigne if he could check on the carpet.

“The sheriff says the carpet is worn out; the seams are coming up,” he said. “If that’s commercial carpet, it should be under warranty.”

LaVigne said he has copies of warranties at the jail.

“I will have someone on our staff go through those,” he said.

Then he’ll report back to the Board of Supervisors.

The new County Jail opened in October 2007 with a construction cost of about $30 million.

POWER BACKUP

The county is also spending up to $7,500 to look into heating system problems at the jail that include furnace valves malfunctioning and incorrect system pressure.

“The heat boilers are not firing properly,” LaVigne said. “The indication that we get is that this system was designed for a much warmer climate. We need to look for a more experienced evaluation.”

LaVigne also has a study under way on the jail’s emergency power system.

A generator that serves the jail and attached County Public Safety Building failed during a storm, and a second generator that would charge backup batteries at the facility is being considered.

Email Lohr McKinstry:

lmckinstry@pressrepublican.com