The Adams County commissioners have been given a report by county Sanitarian Terry Smith about an inspection he and four other local officials performed at the county jail and Smith said the 31-year-old facility "is undergoing a transformation, the likes of which is most impressive."
Smith was joined in his examination of the jail and the adjacent work-release center by Neil Ogg, county building inspector and planning and zoning superintendent, along with county food inspectors Joe Spaulding and Dick Thompson, and Decatur Assistant Fire Chief Jim Hitchcock. The tour was led by Chief Deputy Sheriff Eric Meyer.
Smith noted that the new sheriff, Shane Rekeweg, who, along with Meyer, took command of the sheriff's department on January 1 this year, "has thoroughly reviewed almost every nook and cranny" of the jail and the work-release center, "with improvement considerations concentrated on compliance with federal laws, safety, sanitation, and efficiency.
"The work that has been done — and that which is still in progress — over the last six months is highly commendable."
Smith added, "I left the facility very impressed with the minute attention to detail and organizing that Sheriff Rekeweg and Chief Deputy Meyer and their staff have given. Their forthright attitude and oft-stated willingness to cooperate with our agencies in making any improvements, now and in the future, was also very much appreciated and is something that should be made well-known to the public."
Following is a summary of the improvements at the jail and the work-release site, as listed in Smith's report:
• Placing a professional nurse on staff with regular hours and remodeling a room that is now the official nurse's station.
• New step coverings on basement steps.
• Replacing flooring and floor-to-wall junctures where needed.
• Remodeling the attorney-client meeting room.
• Providing better storage areas for employees' personal belongings by providing more efficient storage areas and disposing of unnecessary items.
• Remodeling several small rooms to increase efficiency and promote ease of cleaning, including disposing of a dumpster full of junk and debris, which eliminated clutter.
• All the jail cells are being repainted. Smith added that "complaints about alleged 'black mold' are much more likely due to many years of allowing smoking in the jail. It may take more coats of paint in the next few years before the accumulated cigarette stench and residue are completely eliminated."
• The entire facility is being repainted, using a professional painter who is in the work-release program. Says Smith, "By using this innovative approach, the county is realizing an approximate savings of $20,000."
• The report says, "Some complaints about poor conditions in the showers were justified and measures have been taken to address this by having a professional apply a durable and easily-cleanable wall covering that will be repainted white. The showers are now in much more sanitary condition."
• Placing better signage on all rooms.
• Moving combustible materials from the garage/wash bay to a new outdoor shed located a safe distance from the main building.
• The food preparation area is being completely repainted with a white, easily-cleranable surface. Smith stated, "This will include eliminating the only violation the two food inspectors noted: paint flaking at the dishwashing station, a common occurrence in many food establishments."
• A serious structural problem in the work-release center has been professionally remediated and the floor has been raised five inches.