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Jail remodeling project approved

About $18,000 is earmarked to renovate a small space, adding the second holding cell to the county jail needed to process female prisoners
Sheriff Rodd Clark believes that, for a while at least, the people given jail time will not be so quickly released from the local facility due to lack of space.
   For some time, the circuit court has tempered jail sentences knowing that not having sufficient beds at the county jail meant turning people away. Now, with the opening of the Jefferson County jail, that situation will change. For the first time in months, the sheriff said, there are eight beds available at the jail.
   Twice voters have turned down ballot measures aimed at building a new county lock-up. Nearby Jefferson County had its own problems in getting that jail built and an operation bond passed. To help solve both counties' problems, when the new jail opened this month, Crook County agreed to pay rent on 12 beds.
   Those dozen beds will mean that more people, both male and female, will have to serve their jail time. Which leads to another problem for the county corrections department. Presently the Crook County jail has only one holding cell. According to the law, in order to hold female prisoners for transport, a second, separate cell will have to be available.
   When the project was offered for bids, only one company responded. They would remodel a small room, currently used for property storage into a secure holding cell for about $24,000. That, the county court decided, was too much. Using a county employee as the project manager, money could be saved by subcontracting the various parts of the job to others.
   Wednesday the court accepted bids for electrical, plumbing and other parts of the remodeling. The total cost is expected to be slightly more than $18,000 and take about four weeks to complete.
   That will take some of the pressure off the courts, Clark believes. "There are 11 people in the Jefferson County jail right now (Wednesday morning)," Sheriff Clark said. "There are eight beds in our jail, that's the first time in a long time we have extra beds. I have notified the district attorney's office and the court that we have extra beds available."
   Filling those beds probably won't happen right away. The sheriff pointed out it takes time for the system to react. "But I'll be back looking for places to put people before long," he added.