PDT Staff Writer
Editor’s Note: This is the fourth installment of a series addressing the different aspects of the Scioto County Jail, the jailing situation around the region and how those aspects have impacted the local criminal justice system.
The concept of a regional jail has and will continue to be a topic of conversation throughout the region. Some officials in Scioto County have expressed they are against the idea and that implementing a new facility would do more harm than good.
The concept of a regional jail came about when 90th District State Representative Dr. Terry Johnson brought officials from Scioto, Pike, Adams and Lawrence counties together along with regional and state officials to tour the former Ohio River Valley Juvenile Correctional Facility (ORV) and talk about possible uses for the closed facility.
Also, one of the driving forces behind the idea, is that Lawrence County is under orders from the state to find new jail facilities. The ORV was suggested initially as a potential solution, even though it is located in Scioto County.
When talking about possible reuses of ORV Johnson said, “If someone wanted to put a candy factory here (ORV), that would be great but, it was not built to be a candy factory. It would be smarter to use this facility for a similar purpose that it was constructed for.”
He said there have been a lot of ideas floated concerning the potential re-purposing the facility.
“The school has wanted this place, the folks that takes care of people with developmental disabilities wanted this place. This is a wonderful facility, a relativity new facility and it can be used for a lot of different purposes,” Johnson said. “At the same time, we also have great needs regionally. One of the things we don’t do well regionally is get together and talk across county lines. This is an opportunity for us to take a look at this facility and see what it has to offer.”
In a profile of the complex, the Ohio Department of Administrative Services says it has 36 acres with 20 acres fenced in. The complex has 10 buildings and was built between 1996-2001. It is equipped with 242 occupancy rooms.
The complex also houses a cafeteria, maintenance, laundry, education, medical and administration facilities.
According to Kim Parsell, Ohio Department of Youth Services Spokeswoman, the original cost to build the ORV was $19.6 million with an outstanding bond debt at the time of closure was $12.1 million. The facility closed in September of 2011.
Parsell said the state is currently paying $220,000 a year to maintain the facility which includes basic maintenance and utilities.
As for costs with the facility was open Parsell said, “The last full year of operation we had at Ohio River Valley Juvenile Correctional Facility was in fiscal year 2011. Altogether, including staffing, maintenance and utilities the total package at that time was $26.4 million annually,” Parsell said. “A large portion of that was staffing. If you would have isolated the cost in fiscal year 2011 for basic maintenance and utilities it was $765,000.”
After the facility closed, it was placed up for sale by the state and in March of 2012 it was reported that the Ohio Department of Youth Services has rejected the only two bids they have received for the former Ohio River Valley Juvenile Detention Center at Franklin Furnace.
The highest bid was $284,000, offered by MGNR Properties of North Ridgeville, Ohio, while the other bid was $117,558 made by National Scrap Corporation of South Bloomfield, Ohio.
The property has been appraised by the Scioto County Auditor’s Office at $11,520,550. The 36 acres of land, not considering the structures, is valued at $846,230, well above the highest bid.
Since that time, the facility has continued to remain for sale.
At the time of it’s closure the facility employed over 300 people.
Doug Coleman, Scioto County Commissioner has also voiced his concerns about reopening ORV, stating, “There is no way we could operate that facility. It would break all three counties (Scioto, Lawrence and Jackson).”
Scioto County Commissioner Mike Crabtree said if ORV were to reopen, he believes it should be under the control of Scioto County.
“Whatever happens down there, Scioto County should have control. I think the only way its ever going to open back up again is if the state of Ohio would put some money up, to help get things started. Right now it’s still an idea, it would be nice if it could open back up, there were a lot of jobs there,” Crabtree said.
Scioto County Sheriff Marty Donini has voiced concerns about the opening of a regional jail, saying it would hurt Scioto County financially.
As for alternatives to ORV, Donini has expressed some interest in opening the former juvenile detention center, currently occupied by The Counseling Center’s Second Chance program.
But, upon review of the 2011 contract between the Scioto County Commissioners and The Counseling Center concerning use of that facility, Assistant Scioto County Prosecutor Danielle Parker said The Counseling Center has an option on the building until 2016.
“The contract we have is a yearly contract the way it was set it, it’s renewable for five years. That means that, as long as they comply with the terms of the contract, they can renew that until 2016,” Crabtree said. “I know they have their plans for the building and I’m sure they are going to try to hold on to the contract and if they do we have to honor that.”
No other possibility has been openly expressed as of this publication.
Next Sunday Wayne Allen and Frank Lewis will summarize and recap the jailing situation in the region and address the positives and negatives of each presented solution.
Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Wayne on Twitter @WayneallenPDT.