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Maintenance shop planned for Morgan jail

By Michael Wetzel

For the Enquirer

The Morgan County Sheriff’s Office should have a maintenance shop constructed and operational on the jail grounds by next summer, Morgan County Commission Chairman Ray Long said.

Sheriff’s Office spokesman Mike Swafford said the department uses temporary utility sheds and a portion of a small electrical room to store items and do minor repairs on items and equipment.

“It is not designed for the work that is needed to be done,” he said about the electrical room. “Additionally, it is not an ideal location because of safety concerns. The current space is not designed for what it is being used for and not set up to house the equipment. … As the jail building ages, the workload of maintenance increases and a new building is warranted.”

Swafford said plans call for a 2,060-square-foot metal building to be built inside the secure perimeter on the west side of the jail. “This will allow for the needed workspace, additional storage and eliminate the safety concerns,” he said.

Long said capital improvement or general fund money will be used to construct the maintenance building. He said America Rescue Plan Act money cannot be used for project.

“When the jail was built, a maintenance shop wasn’t built for it,” he said. “I didn’t know they didn’t have one until several months ago. When they work on some things, they don’t have the room and have to outsource some of the work, something as simple as a lawn mower repair. It’s hard to work on a lawn mower in the tight space they have.

“They were storing stuff around the building and need a place large enough to consolidate their stuff. We’re going to build them a shop.”

The jail opened at its current location in 2006. An addition was made in 2014. Its total capacity is 994 inmates, but it averages about 660.

Long said Sheriff Ron Puckett requested the shop about seven months ago. Three months ago, the commission voted 5-0 to hire architect John Godwin to design a plan. The plan will go out for bids soon, Long said.

“With supply chain issues, we don’t know when we’ll be able to get stuff in or what the bid price will be,” he said. “I’m hoping this time next year, (the shop) will be up and running. It’s just going to be a shop, nothing too elaborate. A place where they can get that kind of work done. Our maintenance guys need more room to be more efficient.”

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