WAVERLY- On Thursday, the Pike County Commissioners announced they have been holding conversations regarding a bill at the statehouse which could bring back a jail to Pike County.
Introduced in February, House Bill 101 would create a funding formula similar to the state’s funding model for school construction.
Through a ranking system, counties wishing to build new facilities would enter a criteria based on need through income per capita, property value, and sales tax revenue capacity.
From there, the state would match a certain percentage based on the aforementioned factors.
“This is our best chance within the economies of scale to bring back a county jail,” said Commissioner Jerry Miller.
Not having the funding to build a new jail, Pike County has had to send inmates to where beds are available.
The Butler County Jail in Hamilton was the primary location where these inmates were sent until recently, reaching as high as 100 inmates where now there are only two left.
For Pike County Sheriff’s officers, that drive was approximately four hours round trip.
“Bed renting was and has been the best option economically, but it is convenient,” said Commissioner Tony Montgomery.
Now, the county has worked deals with the Fayette and Scioto counties sheriff offices. Four inmates are currently housed at the Fayette County Jail in Washington Court House and another 12 are at the Scioto County Jail in Portsmouth.
For now more than 15 years, the county has been without a jail after it was forced to demolish the former 137-year-old facility in Waverly when black mold was discovered in March 2005.
Previous attempts to fund a county jail have fallen short in Pike County, including the state legislature’s failure to pass House Bill 699 in 2006. The bill would have sent $75 million to the adult corrections building fund.
The new complex would have been located on Ohio 220 at the Pike County Economic Development Park approximately three miles east of Waverly.
“We’ve got 15 acres of prime land, and we’ve been waiting on that lame duck session,” said then Commissioner James Brushart in a December 2006 News Watchman article. “We felt we were in the perfect position to receive funding.”
In 2009, the county jail and former home to the Pike County Sheriff’s Office was demolished. Prior to its 2004 closure, the facility was the oldest operating jail in the state.
Contact Patrick Keck at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 740-947-2149, ext. 300431 and follow him on Twitter @pkeckreporter.