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Jail expansion approved by state

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By Rebecca Morris

A 200-bed expansion of the Grayson County Detention Center has been approved by the Kentucky Local Correctional Facilities Construction Authority.

The unanimous approval— reportedly the first in that board’s history — was handed down Aug. 3.

County Jailer Jason Woosley traveled to Frankfort to attend the meeting.

In the county’s request for the expansion, Woosley said it is needed to address overcrowding at the current Shaw Station Road facility, which was built in 2001.

And an expansion, he said in the request, will allow the jail to house more prisoners for other counties, the state and the federal government — an important source of revenue for the jail. The detention center receives about $8 million annually from housing federal prisoners alone, which is roughly two-thirds of its yearly spending.

The expansion is expected to cost less than $15 million. Woosley said Tuesday the county should be able to cover that cost without increasing the payments for the current jail. It’s due to be paid off in mid-2020s, he said, and much like in a house refinancing, that payment will be added to the amount borrowed for the expansion. That will extend the repayment period but keep the payments relatively level.

Woosley said Grayson County Fiscal Court now will have to advertise for bids from an architect to design the expansion. Once those plans are done, the county will use them to seek bids from a construction firm. Depending on how long those processes take, it could be late this year or early 2018 before construction starts.

He said he’ll likely wait to ask magistrates about the architect until an interim county judge executive is appointed by Gov. Matt Bevin, to reduce the chances of any future questioning of the decision.

Grayson County currently uses three jails — the Shaw Station Road facility, a women’s jail in the lower level of the Old Judicial Building and a nearby annex building used for low-risk male prisoners.

There is a combined total of 517 beds, but more prisoners than that are routinely being held.

The county began discussing a possible expansion of the detention center earlier this year. An April feasibilty by Ross, Sinclaire & Associates noted that increasing numbers of local prisoners could prove an eventual financial hardship. More local prisoners mean fewer space for federal inmates, who the county receives more than $50 per day each for housing.