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Costs, responsibilities of regional jail continue to plague cou

by Tina Canon

STAFF WRITER

CLARKSBURG -- The uncertainty of the county's responsibilities and costs with the North Central Regional Jail continued to plague the Harrison County Commission on Monday.

"I consider myself no stranger to law enforcement," said Harrison County Sheriff Jim Jack. "There is no doubt that with the regional jail transports beginning soon, we will have an increase in our call numbers."

Extra law enforcement staff and supplemental transport vehicles might be needed for the additional calls, Jack said.

"The need for two additional patrol deputies per shift to do both transports and to cover the smaller municipalities when they are transporting their prisoners is one area of need," said Jack.

"The other need would be for a staging area that would be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for those waiting to attend court," he said. "The vehicles would be for the extra staff and the transports."

With the closing of the local jail comes floors of vacant space.

The Intoxilyzer room, the booking room for processing suspects and the backup 911 transmitter control room will be maintained at the present jail site, Jack said.

All three rooms could be moved to one floor, according to Jack, leaving the vacant floors for other purposes.

Also, the question whether to privatize the courthouse security staff when the program goes on line were discussed with Jack and Terry Schulte with the Planning Commission.

"We are six months behind of where we should be with the courthouse security," said Jim Harris, administrative assistant for the commissioners.

The courthouse security program will secure all doors except the front door, where people will pass through a metal detector and scanner. Only employees will be able to enter or exit the side doors, with a pass card. The Washington Street door will be staffed by a security person on evenings and weekends, said Schulte.

If the commissioners hire deputies as the courthouse security staff, vehicles should be supplied as with any deputy, said Jack.

A problem with hiring a security firm for the positions, said Jack, is that those companies have no authority to arrest or carry firearms.

County Commissioner Roger Diaz suggested hiring retired city officers or officers who might like to supplement their income.

Another meeting about the jail closing and the courthouse security is scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday.

In other business:

n County Commissioner Roger Diaz was sworn in by Commissioner President Beth Taylor to continue his appointment with the Benedum Airport Authority.

n Steve Garvin, President of Mountainbred Equine Group Inc., approached the commissioners for their support on an enclosed one-mile horse race track project for Harrison County.

Staff writer Tina Canon can be reached at 626-1404 or by e-mail at tcanon@exponent-telegram.com.

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