MIFFLINTOWN - At a meeting Tuesday, Juniata County Commissioner Teresa O'Neal announced the official closure of the Juniata County prison. As of Wednesday, all inmates had been relocated to the Mifflin County Correctional Facility.
Prompted by public inquiry, O'Neal explained the security and liability concerns that factored into the board's decision to close the prison.
"That facility was not up to code to handle handicapped inmates," she said, adding that several stairways and doorways did not meet current regulation.
The building also had a number of other physical limitations, she said. The existing building only held one segregation cell, located in close proximity to the warden's desk. O'Neal explained that communication at the desk became a security issue as conversations could be heard from the cell. Additionally, the existing facility lacked adequate space for record keeping and storage, she said.
O'Neal also noted that temperature control was a challenge in the building. Officials had a difficult time regulating air flow and heat in cell blocks, and temperature was inconsistent throughout the facility.
Also during the meeting, the commissioners approved the purchase of a prison transport van to move inmates between counties.
Sheriff H. Thomas Lyter recommended the purchase of one Penske Motors 2500 Series van at a cost of $18,225. Additional costs would include a van insert, dispatch radio and graphic design. The recommended purchase totaled $34,236.31.
Lyter said the van could be completed and on the road within 4 weeks of purchase. His recommendation passed with a unanimous vote.
In other business, the commissioners:
Ratified CDBG-IDIS checks, as submitted by Dave Bardell, planning director, for work completed on the Village of Walnut Sewage and Collection System. Check No. 1136 was approved in the amount of $52,328.63 to Musser's Excavating LLC and check No. 1137 was approved in the amount of $21,939.50 to Mazzuca Enterprises Inc.
Approved the appointments of Susan Copenhaver, of Mifflintown, and Cindy Kerstetter, of McAlisterville, to three year terms on the Juniata County Library Board of Trustees.
Approved the following documents as submitted by Eva Stong, registrar: Certification of County Maintenance of Effort Report; Quarterly Reimbursement Request and Performance Report, HAVA grant section 261; Final Performance Report and Certification of HAVA Compliance original grant; and Final Performance Report and Certification of HAVA Compliance, Distribution of HAVA Interest.
Approved checks Nos. 35,570 through 35,596 in the amount of $15,062.99.