New jail tower now in operation

MarionCountyJailTower535

MarionCountyJailTower535

The communication tower at the Marion County Jail is up and functional after getting final approval in mid-November from the city?s planning commission.

Marion County Sheriff Robb Craft said the 43-foot tower was installed Nov. 26 and 27 behind the jail on the south side of the building.

?The tower itself is 40 feet high from the ground to the top,? he said, ?and the highest mounted antenna extends an additional 3 feet, making it 43 feet high from the tip of that antenna to the ground.?

The city?s conditional-use permit allows a 45-foot maximum height, he said.

 TOWERMarionCountyJailFront8546

TBS Electronics of Topeka was in charge of placing the galvanized steel tower, anchored in concrete, with accompanying electronics inside the jail.

?With the new tower, it transmits from the jail out west of town to our tower and repeater there,? Craft said. ?Then it goes to whatever section it needs to. It also serves emergency 911 calls.?

The tower, antennaes, all the equipment, installation and the move itself cost $52,384, according to Carol Maggard, Marion County clerk.

Once the new tower was in place, Craft said the county dispatchers were able to move into the new jail.

?They started moving last Tuesday (Dec. 4) and finished up Wednesday and Thursday,? he said. ?Dispatch is up and running now and it?s good to have them back.?

The sheriff and his staff moved into the new facility the week of Oct. 8, about one month after the public open house.

?We have been at the jail for two months,? he said. ?The prisoners were also moved the same week.?

Most of the items that need to be at the new jail were moved, but Craft said some things still need to be brought over from the old facility.

?We couldn?t bring everything from dispatch, but we are in the process of getting (what is left) here,? he added.

Unlike the old jail, the dispatchers don?t have to physically go back into the jail area.

?They can do the electronic monitoring and controlling the doors from their dispatch station,? he said.

Craft said someone from the sheriff?s office still has to be there at night.

Craft said the transition from the old facility went smoothly.

?It worked like we thought it would and didn?t take much adjusting,? he said.

Prisoners

With the increase from a 16-bed jail to a 34-bed facility, some items were purchased to accommodate the larger space.

?We bought more mattresses and blankets in order to have one on every bed,? he said.

New prison uniforms, orange shirt and pants, were also ordered because some were not serviceable and also to make sure there were enough with the increase in beds, Craft said.

Laundry for washing prison uniforms and undergarments is done twice a week.

?Prisoners change uniforms two and sometimes three times a week, depending on the number of prisoners,? he said.

Kitchen utensils were also purchased, because at the old jail, meals were not prepared on-site.

The number of prisoners depends on several factors, Craft said, to include the time of day.

?We can start with 12 prisoners and end with 12, but four might be different,? he said. ?Somewhere in the day we might fluctuate from 16 back to 12.?

On average, Craft said there are around 12 prisoners on a daily basis. The largest population has been between 16 and 17 prisoners.

Craft said the new jail was quite a process and should be functional for the next 30, 40 or 50 years.

?The new tower is a little better and seems a bit clearer,? he said. ?I also want to thank everyone for making the tower happen?city, county, planning commission and others.?

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