More than 18 months of battling between the Grant County Fiscal Court and the county's elected jailer could soon be ending following a unanimous decision of the county's governing body Tuesday night. (Photo: FOX19 NOW/Jody Barr)
The fiscal court voted to close the county's only jail after the latest fight between the judge executive's office and the jail administration over funding. (Photo: FOX19 NOW/Jody Barr)
GRANT COUNTY, KY (FOX19) -
More than 18 months of battling between the Grant County Fiscal Court and the county's elected jailer could soon be ending following a unanimous decision of the county's governing body Tuesday night.
The fiscal court voted to close the county's only jail after the latest fight between the judge executive's office and the jail administration over funding and staffing.
The county claims the jail's been a strain on taxpayers for more than 20 years and voted to do something about it.
In a July 7 email, Jailer Chris Hankins told Judge Executive Steve Wood's office that he planned to send 69 state inmates held in the jail's Class D section back to the state department of corrections after Hankins expressed concerns about not having the staff available to safely house the extra inmates.
The email also included notice that the jail's air conditioning systems in Class D needed repair and the inmates needed to be moved until the problems are sorted out.
The move, the fiscal court said, would cost the county $790,000 in housing revenues.
The state of Kentucky pays the county $31.34 to house an inmate. Grant County currently houses 69 state prisoners in the Class D section, a count that changes regularly.
The resolution, introduced at the Tuesday night fiscal court meeting by Wood, would put the state and the county treasurer on notice that the jail would be closing sometime between the next 90 to 120 days. The notice of the closure would go out on July 18, according to the resolution.
As part of the notice to close, the county would give the state corrections department 90 days to remove all state inmates from the county. The county would also notify any jail within 55 miles of the need to house Grant County inmates.
The cost for that housing would be finalized at a later date, county Deputy Judge Executive Scott Kimmich said during Tuesday night's meeting.
Jail Lt. Jason Hankins told FOX19 NOW the jail has already received cost estimates for housing county inmates at nearby jails. The cost to house the county's state and county inmates at the Carroll County jail would cost $50 a day per inmate, Hankins said.
The fiscal court would also notify the county's judges of the need to "expand the home confinement" program, Kimmich said Tuesday. That means, inmates who would have been jailed at the county facility will now be kept at home with monitoring.
The decision to close the jail also comes as the county's finishing up a $1.5 million renovation of the jail. Repairs as part of that renovation were still in progress, even as the fiscal court voted to close the jail Tuesday night.
The trouble between Wood, Kimmich and the Hankins started last summer when a video recording between the men became public in a lawsuit.
The meeting happened Feb. 14, 2015, just a month after Hankins and Wood took office. The meeting happened at the jail and it was supposed to deal with the jail's budget and hiring more officers to run the facility.
The video shows the conversation taking several different turns. Some of the discussion turned to firing county employees and to vulgar discussion of replacing a older county employee with a "blonde, 24 with big tits," Wood is recorded as saying in the video.
That employee, Connie McClure, worked for Grant County for 25 years and the county retired her at the end of the fiscal year.
Months later, McClure sued the county after finding out about the Feb. 14 recording and Wood's comments regarding replacing her with a younger woman.
McClure was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer days following a December 2014 interview with FOX19 NOW regarding her lawsuit. McClure would die three months later.
FOX19 NOW asked Judge Executive Steve Wood for comment. A call and message left on his cell phone had not been returned as of this report.
We'll continue to update this developing report as we gather details and reaction from the jail and fiscal court officials.