Facility expansion under way

Detention center's dispatch office, kitchen benefit first

— A $600,000 expansion and renovation project is finally under way at the Routt County Detention Center, which was built in 1991.

On Monday, workers from TCD Inc. started on the project, which will provide the facility with a second port, two holding cells and additional space for dispatch and kitchen operations.

The project was approved last year but was delayed when the county was unable to hire a construction firm.

The county bid the project out, but because of the construction boom last year, not a single construction firm bid on the project, Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak said.

This year, county officials had no such problem and selected TCD to handle the work.

"This is a sizable project," Commissioner Doug Monger said. "We have been setting money aside for it."

The expansion and renovation of the two-story building located on Shield Drive west of town is scheduled to take six to eight months.

"We are real excited about the project," Sheriff John Warner said.

The first phase of the project will be the expansion and renovation of the south side of the building that will benefit the dispatch center and the kitchen.

Currently, the dispatch center is in a small room in the basement, which is below the first-floor kitchen.

The plan is to extend the building south to add additional work space for the dispatch center and the kitchen.

The expansion will improve the working conditions of the dispatch center and include windows for sunlight, said Janice Ling, county communications director.

"Up until now, we have been hidden in a cold, dark basement," Ling said. "The additional space will give us more room. Right now, we are working elbow to elbow."

The additional space will also be available for future needs, she said.

Because of the work, the dispatch operations will be moved to the first floor of the facility. The dispatchers will work in the training room.

Ling and two administrative assistants will move their offices to the county-owned building across the street from the Routt County Courthouse.

"Our operations will go on just like they did before," Ling said.

Since the facility was built, Warner recognized the kitchen was too small.

"The kitchen was underbuilt," he said. "It was a big mistake. We don't have enough room for refrigerators and freezers."

The second phase of the project will focus on the rear of the building.

The west side of the building will be expanded to provide an additional port and holding cells.

A second port was needed because of the amount of prisoners the jail is having to transfer between the facility and the courthouse, Warner said.

"We needed a second area where we could board and unload prisoners," Warner said. "At times, we have to take the prisoners outside to put them in vehicles. Whenever you do that, there is a risk that a prisoner might try and run."

The need for the two holding cells is because of the amount of people arrested between Thursday and Sunday each week.

These four days is when most drunken-driving arrests occur and this can quickly fill the jail's three holding cells, Warner said. The holding cells are reserved for suspects who can post bond.

"This project will give us two additional holding cells instead of having to put these people in the general population," he said.

Because of the work, Warner and his staff have to keep the building's rear parking lot clear. On Monday, sheriff's vehicles were parked in front of the facility.

Security will also be stepped up because of the work, Warner said.

"We will increase security because of the dispatch center," Warner said. "But it will be nothing out of the ordinary."

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