The Wyoming County Commissioners on Tuesday approved spending $18,898 to replace all 11 showers at the jail.
The commissioners awarded the contract to Feature Flooring of Edgewood, Md., to replace the showers as well as the stalls housing them.
As explained by Commissioner Tom Henry, the showers are more than 10 years old, and all are leaking. Computer equipment housed in rooms underneath the showers are at risk of being damaged. Previous efforts to repair the showers have been unsuccessful, he said, and it was decided this would be the best course of action to correct the problem.
Henry also explained that the commissioners checked with local contractors, but none could provide the necessary techniques to quickly replace the showers and the stalls, which will take three days and nights. During that time, certain sections of the jail will be locked down as each shower is replaced.
At Commissioner Judy Mead’s suggestion, it was decided to use Act 13 money - which comes from the severance fees for natural gas wells - to pay for the project.
A scheduled prison board meeting could not be held due to a lack of a quorum.
Although no action could be taken, Warden Kenneth Repsher informed the commissioners and Sheriff Ned Sherman, the other prison board member who was present, that the prison population is now 81 inmates.
That is six over capacity.
According to the warden’s report, the county paid $4,950 in December to house prisoners in other facilities outside Wyoming County. Total cost for the year for Wyoming County was $151,740.
Henry reported that Wyoming County President Judge Russell Shurtleff will now be in Sullivan County on Tuesdays, where he also serves as judge. Because of this, Henry suggested that either the prison board meet on Thursdays, when Shurtleff will be available, or find an alternate - such as one of the district justices - to serve in the judge’s place.
County solicitor Paul Litwin said that he is uncertain if that is allowed under the county code, but would check into the matter further.
Henry said the decision when to meet should be made by the prison board, and the question will be put to it when the board meets next month.
Later, the commissioners voted to award a contract to USA Insulation of Northeast Pennsylvania in Dunmore to replace the insulation along the jail’s roof for $6,488. Henry explained a mold problem has occurred with the existing insulation, requiring its replacement.
At the request of EMA Director Gene Dziak, the commissioners approved the application for an Act 147 Contract/Grant. The $4,365 grant would be used in the event an accident at the nuclear power plant in Berwick, he said.
In such circumstances, 1,750 people would be transferred to Wyoming County. The money would be used for radiological testing and other expenses.
Henry also reported that the next meeting of the consortium aimed at fighting drug abuse in Wyoming County will be Thursday, Feb. 9, at the EMA building from 9 to 11 a.m.
Jeff Porter, head of the county’s 9-11 communications center, as well as Wyoming County District Attorney Jeff Mitchell, have been invited to attend, along with other elected officials and concerned citizens groups, he said.