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Jail repairs a 'serious' issue
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Effingham County officials will go ahead with finding a structural engineer to recommend improvements to the county jail, improvements that demand immediate attention, according to county staff.

“The jail has some serious issues that needed to be addressed,” county administrative assistant Adam Kobek said.
Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie said an inspection of the jail showed that some windows were in poor shape.

“The frames are completely shot,” he said.

Commissioner Hubert Sapp said the main problem with the long-plagued jail is the roof.

“The roof leaking has caused all these other problems,” he said. “Unless you do something with that roof, you’re just throwing good money after bad.”  

Sapp cited the problems with the nearby Department of Family and Children Services office that resulted from a faulty roof. The county was constantly replacing carpet, walls and ceiling tiles and battling mildew.

“DFCS is a perfect example. There was a problem every three or four months and haven’t had a problem since we put the (new) roof on,” he said.

The county has $328,000 in the budget for repairs to the jail and the sheriff’s administrative complex.

“That might get you a new roof, but a new roof might cost you a little more,” Kobek said.

The roof on the DFCS building, which has a 50-year warranty, cost approximately $150,000.

“Meanwhile, that building is deteriorating more and more,” Commissioner Myra Lewis said of the jail.

McDuffie said plans that have been drawn up called for a new administrative area to be built.

Some of where we have administrative (offices) will turn into minimum security for weekenders and work release,” he said, adding plans also have called for the EMS to move into the back of the administrative area.

The sheriff pressed the need for the windows and doors to be repaired quickly.

“We’ve got to do this anyway,” he said.

“We need to get some improvements over there,” commission Chairperson Verna Phillips said.

The jail’s current roof was installed in 2002 and the building’s air conditioning units are situated on the roof. How much those units contribute to the roof’s leaks is unknown.

But McDuffie said standing water on the roof following heavy rains is common.

“For weeks and weeks after we have rain, there is water as much as ankle deep,” he said.

Commissioners originally had discussed the idea of having work on the jail and the old courthouse done under one contract.