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The Owen County Sheriff’s Office will be staying put after all.
After several weeks of debate, the Owen County Fiscal Court rejected a proposal that would temporarily move the department to a rented building on U.S. 22E.
The plan to move the department was sparked by concerns of employees’ health. It was reported that several staff members had suffered from upper-respiratory problems.
Magistrates Bobby Gaines and Ray Smith, members of the court’s facilities committee, inspected the second floor of the sheriff’s office earlier this year and found birds had been entering the building and leaving droppings behind.
Some officials also suspected the illnesses were being caused by mold, mildew or asbestos, even though the Kentucky Department of Labor inspected the building and found no unusual circumstances.
The employees’ concerns prompted the court to seek bids to clean up the second floor of the sheriff’s department in March.
Bids were submitted by JWI Restoration in Winchester, Paul Davis Restoration in Latonia and Goderwis Construction Inc. in Owenton. Goderwis submitted the lowest bid at $5,025.80. The bid included repairing the sheriff’s office where the birds are said to be entering, as well as removing the debris from the second floor.
At the July 14 fiscal court meeting, magistrates considered temporarily moving the department and requested that a lease be drawn up before any further action was taken.
Owen County Attorney Charlie Carter, who was appointed to draw up the lease, was unable to attend the July 28 meeting. The magistrates agreed they could not take any further action without a written contract.
Monday, the court decided to keep the sheriff’s department right where it is.
The magistrates agreed to have the building tested once again for any contaminants. Several renovations and requests for new equipment were also approved.
The contract for the clean-up and repairs was awarded to Goderwis Construction Inc.
The expenditures include four computers and printers, four police-band scanners, four cash drawers, two chairs, a front counter, $855 for printing of taxpayers’ bills on postcards, $500 for a credit-card system, $1,000 for a program maintenance fee and $200 for check stampers. The total expenditures come to $12,905. Additional costs will be added in for two phones, floor repairs and office painting.
Gaines said he felt keeping the sheriff’s office at its current location was best for the county.
“I think it was a good move,” Gaines said. “People complained because it was going to be so far out of town. If we can clean it up and make it work, I think it’s the right thing to do.”
Magistrate Teresa Davis said the fiscal court was mainly concerned about the health of sheriff’s office employees.
“I think the fiscal court – first and foremost – is concerned about the health of those employees,” Davis said. “In our vote, we’re securing the fact that the building will be cleaned and rechecked to make sure the employees stay safe.”
A representative from the Kentucky Historical Restoration Department in Frankfort examined the sheriff’s office July 29.
Owen County Judge Executive Carolyn Keith said they believe the building is structurally sound.
“Their take on (the building) was, in their limited exam, they believe that the building is structurally sound,” Keith said.