Fayette County did not receive a safety capital grant to fund a new jail assessment, but is moving forward and requesting price quotes from different engineering firms to do the assessment.
The Fayette County Sheriff’s Office led the effort to apply for the Local Government Safety Capital Grant with the help of the Fayette County Commissioners and the architectural and planning firm, DLZ. DLZ announced last week Fayette County had not been chosen by the state of Ohio to receive the capital safety grant.
“We had every village and the city apply for it to show collaboration in the county,” said Dan Dean, Fayette County Commissioner. “That was one of our weaknesses when we didn’t get it last time.”
Dean said they would like to find out the reasoning behind why the county did not receive the grant this time around, either. A spokesperson from DLZ said they hope to learn more from the state about why the county was not a chosen recipient for the grant.
“The grant would have moved us forward in the process of building the new jail. It would not have built the new jail. It would have paid for a needs assessment,” said Fayette County Sheriff Vernon Stanforth.
The needs assessment helps to determine the size required of the new jail, considers possible locations for the new jail and the types of programs and services that would be required to meet state standards.
The jail currently used to house inmates in Fayette County was built in 1884 and booked its first prisoner in 1885. According to the state, the jail does not have enough square footage to accommodate the large population of current inmates, has been overcrowded for a number of years and consistently fails state audits.
The state’s guidelines today allow for the jail to house 28 inmates based on the size of the jail, said Stanforth. The jail sees an average of about 70 inmates daily.
Without the capital safety grant, Stanforth said they will continue to look for other grants to apply for, but said without grant funding, the county will pay for the needs assessment to build the new jail.
Stanforth pointed out that grants from state and federal monies to build new jails are not common like they once were. Clinton and Highland counties received state monies in the 1990s to build new county jails.
“That was the last of the state monies for jail construction. Once that money was used up it was gone. Fayette County was unable to get that funding,” said Stanforth.
On Monday, the Fayette County Commissioners met to discuss moving forward with doing a needs assessment for a new jail using county funds.
The commissioners are submitting request for quote (RFQ) inquiries to different engineering firms, said Dean, to bid on the process for developing the needs assessment and a preliminary design of the new jail based on that assessment.
Stanforth said that without the assistance of state and federal monies it’s possible that the county will look at passing a construction and/or operating levy for the new jail.
Fayette County applied for the maximum amount of $500,000 from the Local Government Safety Capital Grant.
More information about why the county was not chosen for the public grant will be reported when it becomes available from the state.
Reach Ashley at (740) 313-0355 or on Twitter @ashbunton