Saturday, April 17, 2004

Jail's trailer leaving soon

Kenton County detention center work nearly done

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

COVINGTON - A trailer and chain-link fence topped with barbed wire that has blocked traffic along Park Place since September will be gone by Wednesday.

County officials began dismantling the compound this week following completion of nearly $1 million in renovations at the Kenton County Detention Center.

The trailer, surrounded by the fence, had been used as a temporary intake for seven months as construction workers updated the booking area, medical area and created more space for county prisoners convicted of misdemeanors.

Some Covington business people had complained the compound looked unsightly. They said the lane closure and parking spots lost during the renovations were inconvenient.

On Friday afternoon, several people walking by the trailer said they will be glad when it's gone.

"There was a chain link fence blocking a street in the middle of Covington," said Joy Klare, 48, of Taylor Mill. "I can see why people complained. I wouldn't want to have a business across from it either."

The improvements were made after the county's attempt to build a new jail stalled in court. Last October, the Kentucky Court of Appeals ruled that Kenton County did not break the law when it raised its payroll tax on Jan. 1, 2001, to help pay for a new jail. The city of Covington and other plaintiffs appealed the case to the Kentucky Supreme Court.

Jailer Terry Carl said the jail regularly houses 415 prisoners even though it only has 346 beds.

The total cost of the improvements was $954,665, about $30,000 under budget.

Changes include the removal of a wall and creation of a 60-bed dorm on the jail's fifth floor, which used to house the state's nonviolent Class D prisoners. That allowed jail officials to move 60 sentenced misdemeanor prisoners from the jail's crowded, more-secure upper floors.

Carl said the jail would save money on health care by the almost completed medical and dental clinic on part of the third floor.



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