Saturday, December 28, 2002

Former jail to serve new role


Storage, possible soup kitchen envisioned in Hamilton

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

HAMILTON - Butler County officials have no immediate plans to tear down the old county jail, which was replaced last summer by a new $37 million complex.

The county plans to use the 31-year-old, three-story concrete building on Court Street to store excess records from the county records center and to warehouse old furniture, County Administrator Derek Conklin said.

The former jail houses offices for Sheriff Harold Don Gabbard's training unit and the sheriff's property room, which contains evidence from criminal cases.

The county will start storing records and old furniture in the building as soon as the sheriff moves the training unit's offices and the property room out of the building.

The property room will be moved during the next month, but no moving date has been set for the training unit's offices, said Detective Monte Mayer, the sheriff's spokesman.

Mr. Conklin said the building isn't suited for any future use at this point except storage.

"It's not the best building in the world," he said.

"One of the reasons we built a new jail is that this one was worn out."

The roof and the plumbing eventually will need to be replaced. There is no immediate need to replace the roof because nothing will be stored on the third floor, Mr. Conklin said.

The county also is considering allowing a Hamilton church to establish a soup kitchen for the poor in the old jail.

The Rev. Regina Johnson-Phillips, pastor of the Covenant Community Christian Church, has asked if the kitchen could be used to cook for the poor.

Stoves and other cooking equipment are still in the old jail's kitchen.

"The kitchen isn't in real good shape, but it might be useable," Mr. Conklin said.

E-mail skemme@enquirer.com



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