County council to fund enclosure of rec yard at jail

The Huntington County Council voted to fund the enclosure of the recreational yard at the Huntington County Jail at its meeting on Monday, Dec. 18.

Tom Wall, president of the Huntington County Commissioners, and Scott Carnegie, of structural engineering firm DLZ, presented the lowest bid for the project to the board, which was a $347,488 proposal from Hamilton Builders.

Carnegie noted that construction would last three to four months. Of the finished product, he described it as a big, open-room concept capable of serving many functions. Carnegie added that there has been a push among jails in the Midwest to provide programming that corrects behaviors that repeatedly land people behind bars. He noted that the completed recreational yard area would be a space where such programming could readily take place.

Wall mentioned to council that Hamilton Builders’ bid did not include the cost of heating and air conditioning. He informed the board that he would return with that cost at a later date. Huntington County Sheriff Terry Stoffel noted that he was not anticipating that cost to be very high, as heating and AC infrastructure was in place near the recreational yard and any new infrastructure would simply need to be connected to it.

Council voted to pay for the project using Public Safety LOIT funds.

A notice to proceed will be issued to the contractor, said Carnegie, which will enable it to start incurring costs. A contractor agreement will be drawn up after that, he said.

In other business:

Shelly Snyder, director of the Bowen Center’s Huntington office, discussed the mental health center’s role in the community. She informed council that the center was going to start offering a substance use recovery program at the jail in January, with meetings set for every Wednesday morning. In the beginning, the program will only be open to the jail’s female populace, she said.

Jan Williams, of the Local Anti-Drug Coalition Efforts (LACE) of Huntington County board, gave a presentation to council on the recipients of the latest LACE grants. Wall called into question the procedure of Williams going to council to approve the grants, contending that it was actually the commissioners’ call to make. The board went ahead and authorized the grants, but did so under the condition that Williams speak to attorney Bob Garrett to determine which body had the final say.