<BR>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;County approves draft agreement to rent Jefferson County jail beds


   If approved, the proposal would just be a temporary fix that would allow the county time to plan and build a facility in Crook County

   A draft agreement submitted by Jefferson County official to rent jail bed space to Crook County has been reworked and signed. That draft will be sent back to Jefferson County for their approval.
   For a long time, Crook County officials have known the county jail facility needs upgrading. During the last state inspection, a number of health and safety issue were raised. Unless those concerns were dealt with, the county was told, the jail would have to be shut down. However, to bring the facility up to code would mean the entire building would have to be torn down and completely rebuilt.
   Twice bond measures to fund construction of a new county jail facility have gone down in defeat, once by a slim margin. Renting beds at the new Jefferson County jail is only, Sheriff Rodd Clark pointed out, a temporary fix to the problem.
   If approved, the county would contract for either 35 or 40 beds per day whether nor not they were all used. An additional five beds would also be available on a space available status. The agreement would run for five years with a set fee of $45 per bed per day. Annual increases of four percent each year would be part of the agreement.
   Originally, Jefferson County asked for increases of six percent. Crook County Judge Scott Cooper said that whichever is finally agreed on, the bottom-line will be the same: Whether it is for 40 beds plus five when available with the four percent increase, or if six percent then it would be only 35 beds and five when available. Approximately $700,000 would be budgeted for the first year in either case.
   Clark explained that savings from the present jail budget would fund this agreement. If an agreement is reached between the two counties, a part of the present jail facility would be used as a holding facility. What is now the east wing of the county jail might be turned back to the city for its uses. That is yet to be fully discussed.
   However, if the rest of the present jail were used only for arrest lodging and holding prisoners awaiting a court appearance, the savings would make up the funding needs. This would only be a stop-gap measure, though, and Clark said an agreement to use Jefferson County jail space would just give Crook County five years of breathing room to come up with another, permanent, solution.
   The draft agreement will be signed by the county court, "to show them that we're serious," and sent to Jefferson County. The expectation is that it will be reworked there and sent back for further study.