Delaware County Commissioners gave their approval in August 2017 to move forward with the expansion and renovation improvements to the Delaware County Jail, 844 U.S. Route 42 N., Delaware.

In a special session on April 16, commissioners met with Clerk of Courts Natalie Fravel, Common Pleas Court Appointee Kristin Schultz and Juvenile/Probate Court Judge David Hejmanowski as the building committee to approve plans for the expansion project.

Sheriff Russell Martin, also a member of the committee, was unable to attend the meeting.

In accordance with the Ohio Revised Code 153.36, “… the plans, drawings, representations, bills of material, and specifications of work, and estimates of the cost thereof in detail and in the aggregate, … related to the building of a courthouse or jail, or an addition to or alteration, repair, or improvement thereof, they shall be submitted to the board of county commissioners, together with the clerk of the court of common pleas, the sheriff, and probate judge, and one person to be appointed by the judge of the court of common pleas, for their approval, … ,” the building committee approved the plans for the expansion project.

Jon Melvin, Delaware County director of facilities, and Jeff Balzer, Delaware County Sheriff’s Office chief deputy, have been working together for the past year on the expansion project.

“This project started off as a way to incorporate a full body scanner into the intake process at the jail, similar to what you see at the airport, to help cut down on contraband coming into the jail,” Melvin said. “When we started this project, it became real apparent that we were going to need to make some other adjustments to incorporate it to improve the process of intake and booking.”

Melvin said looking at the project, it was decided to split out some of the functions, increase the size of the intake and booking, and lay it out better. He said the basic expansion would include taking over a storage area and adding a 600-square-foot addition to install the body scanner.

“When we originally started the process, we were looking for a place to put a body scanner because we literally don’t have room for it,” Balzer said. “If we were going to do this then let’s make it more efficient to make the booking area work better.”

Balzer said it will create a separate intake and release areas.

“Plus, we brought everything down together, the showering and the searching,” he said. “We’ve seen the need for this even this past weekend. Our correction officers found an inmate that had drugs secreted on their person. Our folks do a thorough job of checking, but they can still hide things.”

Balzer said the body scanner should catch those types of things.

“Basically, it’s another tool on the belt,” he said. “We think these things will make it a safer facility for all of us.”

Melvin said current construction cost for the expansion of the facility is estimated at $111,000, and the plans were approved by the Bureau of Adult Detention.

Balzer said the cost of the scanner is being paid for by profits from the conversary fund. He said there was a change in the Ohio Revised Code last year allowing the funds to be used for the purchase of the scanner.

The building committee approved the plans to be filed with the county auditor’s office, and the commissioners, in the regular session that followed, approved the cost estimate, the bid specifications, and setting of date and time for the opening of the bids.

By D. Anthony Botkin

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Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.