Thursday, March 29, 2001

Clermont jail to be renovated

By David Eck
Enquirer Contributor

        BATAVIA — Clermont County officials next month will begin renovating the county jail, a project that eventually will increase its capacity by 74 percent.

        The two-phase project will increase the number of beds in the jail from 294 now to 512.

        That's desperately needed, says Sheriff A.J. Rodenberg, because the cur rent jail is always at capacity. The lack of jail space has forced Clermont to spend about $650,000 a year to house inmates in other counties' facilities, he said.

        The project's $2.9 million first stage, scheduled for completion in mid-2002, will update the administration, medical and booking areas, and holding cells to handle the increased capacity.

        A vacant part of the existing jail will be renovated to house 96 inmates - 48 female and 48 male prisoners in separate dormitory units for minimum and medium security inmates.

        That section was built several years ago but was never used as inmate housing, Sheriff Rodenberg said.

        The 96 new beds in the renovated section will offset 40 existing beds to be lost during construction of the second phase, the sheriff said.

        The county will receive $1.3 million in state grants to help pay for the first phase, said Kathy Lehr, Clermont's director of communications.

        The second part of the project, which will start in mid-2002, adds 192 beds, staff locker rooms, visitation area, and class and training rooms. It will also eliminate 30 temporary beds. Ms. Lehr did not have the cost Wednesday of the second phase or details on how it would be funded.

        The total expansion project should be completed within three years, the sheriff said.

        The new space can't come soon enough, officials say.

        “There's just no extra room in the facility to accommodate more inmates as it exists,” the sheriff said. “We just don't have any vacancies there. It's filled to capacity all the time.”

        The jail was designed for 264 inmates, but routinely houses 300, the sheriff said.

        “We're hoping this will cover us for the immediate if not the foreseeable future,” the sheriff said.


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