POMEROY — The Meigs County Jail will be permanently closed Meigs County Sheriff Keith Wood stated during Thursday’s Meigs County Commissioner meeting.
Meigs County Sheriff Keith Wood provided an update on operations at the sheriff’s office, noting the decision had been made to permanently close the jail facility at the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office.
Wood read a letter which will be sent to John Adams, administrator for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction Bureau of Adult Detention.
The letter states,
“I am writing to advise you that as of this date after discussions with the Megs County Commissioners and myself, the decision has been made to permanently close the Meigs County Jail. During Covid-19, I temporarily closed the Meigs County Jail and moved our dispatchers/jailers from my office to the county’s 911 Center in April to assist them during this pandemic and during this time, a levy was passed in Meigs County for extra funding to the 911 center.
It has been decided that my dispatchers/jailers will permanently remain at the 911 Center and become 911 Center employees.
With that, I will no longer have in-house dispatchers/jailers to abide by the Minimum Jail Standards in Ohio so we will not be re-opening the Meigs County Jail.”
Sheriff Wood and Major Scott Trussell also noted the age of the facility, which was built in the late 1800s and the struggles to meet jail standards and inspections due to this.
In recent years, the jail had been approved to hold up to five individuals on a short-term basis.
Commissioner Tim Ihle stated that he felt closing the jail was the right decision.
In the coming weeks, the sheriff’s office and commissioners will be working to determine the best options for outside housing of inmates, including looking at which facilities have options for virtual hearings.
Renovation work is currently taking place on the first floor of the sheriff’s office to create modernized offices for the deputies, and an area for background checks, concealed carry applications and other business at the office.
Regarding other matters at the sheriff’s office, Wood stated that the office has been dealing with staffing concerns related to COVID-19 due to possible exposure and subsequent quarantine of individuals.
COVID-19 has also caused changes to the school resource officer programs at the local schools and the interactions which the deputies are able to have inside the schools.
Wood explained that currently, officers are not able to go into the classrooms and teach lessons with the students and are very limited in face-to-face interactions. He added that, despite not being able to be in the schools, officers are still providing a presence at the facilities and are available to provide services to the schools as requested by the respective districts.
Some of the school resource officers are also helping to fill shifts on the road due to COVID-19 related staffing concerns and being down two full-time officers.
Sheriff Wood stated that once COVID-19 concerns and restrictions are lifted the plan is to return the school resources officers to the schools and classrooms as has been done previously.
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Sarah Hawley is the managing editor of The Daily Sentinel.