Commissioners vote to renovate jail for space


Carroll County commissioners changed their minds yesterday about how to increase the capacity of the county jail. They voted to renovate space now used for deputy training into accommodations for prisoners instead of buying a modular unit.

The renovations will be about $110,000 cheaper than buying a modular unit and will house about the same number of prisoners, they said.

Commissioners Donald I. Dell and Elmer C. Lippy voted to change a decision the three commissioners made last fall: to buy a modular unit to expand the 120-bed Carroll County Detention Center at 100 N. Court St.

Commissioner Julia W. Gouge did not attend yesterday's meeting.

Sheriff John H. Brown has opposed buying a prebuilt, portable unit since it was proposed last year. He said the unit would not be as secure as a brick-and-mortar addition.

The renovated space will be used as a second dormitory room to house work-release prisoners. The jail has 24 beds for work-release prisoners, but it needs more.

Yesterday, there were 40 work-release prisoners at the jail, said Sgt. Mark Peregoy, department training coordinator. Some were housed with prisoners in the main part of the jail.

Work-release prisoners -- those convicted of nonviolent crimes -- are allowed to leave the jail to work every day.

The county began planning about five years ago to build an 80-bed addition. But bids for the addition came in about $1 million higher than county officials had estimated. Bids for the addition ranged from $3 million to $3.5 million.

So the commissioners began exploring modular units as a cheaper alternative and requested proposals from companies for a unit to house 24 prisoners. A Florida company, Space Masters Inc., submitted the proposal that best fit the county's needs at $224,000, said Tom Rio, chief of the county Bureau of Building Construction.

But Sheriff Brown continued to oppose the idea. A new warden, hired last month, suggested that the county renovate a training room instead of buying a modular unit.

Warden Mason W. Waters estimated the county could save about $200,000 by adopting his idea. Yesterday, Mr. Rio said the county would save about $110,000. The renovation will cost about $114,600, Mr. Rio said.

The plan is to turn the training room, which is used about four times a month, into a dormitory for 24 work-release prisoners. The space is on the ground floor of the building and is adjacent to the current work-release area.

Sergeant Peregoy said the new training room will be cramped. He said he may have to break training sessions into smaller groups or find a larger room to use outside the jail.

A muster room, used by deputies for meetings, will become the training room.

The renovation includes $7,400 to move the court commissioner's office from the Courthouse Annex to the jail, Mr. Rio said. That plan has not been approved by the District Court.

The county Bureau of Building Services will serve as the general contractor for the jail renovation project, Mr. Rio said.

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