Build­ing task force mov­ing for­ward on ren­o­va­tion plans

Weighs uses for empty county jail, other build­ings

Rappahannock News - - FROM PAGE ONE • COURTHOUSE ROW - By Patty Hardee Spe­cial to the Rap­pa­han­nock News

When the Rap­pa­han­nock Shenan­doah War­ren Re­gional Jail opened in Front Royal in 2014, Rap­pa­han­nock County’s jail closed down. Then-County Ad­min­is­tra­tor John McCarthy joked that the emp­tied jail fa­cil­ity would be­come a very se­cure fil­ing cab­i­net.

And he wasn’t far off. At last Fri­day’s meet­ing of the county’s Build­ing Task Force, a large part of the dis­cus­sion re­volved around how to bet­ter use the jail as . . . stor­age. All jok­ing aside, though, the county is in des­per­ate need of clean, dry, se­cure stor­age space for valu­able pa­per doc­u­ments, such as land records, court records, and ev­i­dence files.

A tour of sev­eral de­te­ri­o­rat­ing al­beit his­toric county build­ings along court­house row in Wash­ing­ton ear­lier this year re­vealed to the task force the ur­gency of find­ing stor­age space. For ex­am­ple, the base­ment of the court­house is jammed with fil­ing cab­i­nets and card­board boxes pre­car­i­ously piled on top of wooden pal­lets in a room that col­lects wa­ter with ev­ery heavy rain storm.

Fri­day’s meet­ing at the county Vis­i­tor Cen­ter was at­tended by task force mem­bers Kees Du­tilh, a lo­cal builder, and county su­per­vi­sors John Lesin­ski (Hamp­ton) and Ron Fra­zier (Jack­son); in­terim County Ad­min­is­tra­tor Brenda Gar­ton; Ricky Jenk­ins, the county’s main­te­nance staff; and tech­nol­ogy con­sul­tant Dave Yow­ell.

First on the agenda was a dis­cus­sion with county sher­iff Con­nie Compton about how best to use her fa­cil­i­ties, in­clud­ing the jail and the mag­is­trate’s of­fice — a sep­a­rate build­ing across the park­ing lot from the jail — for emer­gency per­son­nel, the 911 co­or­di­na­tor, other county staff, and locked stor­age for ev­i­dence. Gar­ton sug­gested that

the jail cells could be used for se­cure, safe stor­age of county records. Cur­rently the jail is be­ing used to store such things as tires and other au­to­mo­tive sup­plies for the sher­iff’s de­part­ment’s pa­trol cars, out-of-date in­mate uni­forms, and Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions. Compton said that RSW in­mates could be con­scripted to clean out the cells to make room for county stor­age. The task force also dis­cussed where the county’s build­ing and zon­ing of­fi­cials could be housed more eco­nom­i­cally than in the Kramer Build­ing on Gay Street in Wash­ing­ton. The county pays over $4000 a month in rent for the space. Wash­ing­ton Mayor John Fox Sul­li­van, who at­tended the meet­ing,

told the task force that he and his wife own the build­ing on Main Street that now houses the Rap­pa­han­nock News. Sul­li­van said he would be will­ing to sell the build­ing to the county. Car­ton and Jenk­ins re­viewed bids awarded, work com­pleted, and pend­ing work on county build­ings and grounds, in­clud­ing com­plet­ing emer­gency elec­tri­cal work at the court­house, ren­o­va­tions at the Vis­i­tor Cen­ter to cre­ate of­fices for the county ad­min­is­tra­tor, and re­pairs to the steps in front of the Cir­cuit Court Clerk’s of­fice.

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