Fiscal Court tentatively approves lease for jail training facility

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From left, Somerset Mayor Alan Keck, Pulaski County Detention Center Sgt. Rodney Dick, Pulaski County Jailer Anthony McCollum, Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital CEO Robert Parker, Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital ACFO Jill Grabeel, Pulaski County Judge-Executive Steve Kelley and SPEDA President and CEO Chris Girdler outside a 6,000-square-foot warehouse that will soon serve as a technical training facility for inmates.

 

The county is moving ahead with plans to open a vocational training facility adjacent to the Pulaski County Detention Center.

On Tuesday Pulaski County Fiscal Court tentatively approved a lease agreement between PCDC and SPEDA (Somerset Pulaski Economic Development Authority). SPEDA officials announced in September that the organization would purchase the 6,000 square foot warehouse on Thannoli Drive from Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital (and parent company LifePoint Health) specifically for a training center where PCDC could build upon its re-entry program for inmates nearing the end of their incarceration.

With the sale having been finalized, PCDC Sergeant Rodney Dick presented a proposed two-year lease to Fiscal Court in which the jail would pay SPEDA $1,667 a month. At the end of the lease, PCDC would have the option to purchase the facility for just $1.

The jail has sent two welding classes to Somerset Community College. The goal is to move that program in-house as well as add other educational offerings and softskills training once the center is remodeled. Sgt. Dick added that inmates will also be used to help get the building ready in as cost-efficient manner as possible.

"I think you'll see dividends that will be paid back to Pulaski County," Dick said, "not just in money but something that will…change the lives of some of these people."

The court approved the lease on a conditional basis with a motion from District 3 Magistrate Jimmy Wheeldon and second from District 4 Magistrate Mark Ranshaw. Prior to the vote, County Attorney Martin Hatfield advised the court that he recommended two changes to the lease regarding indemnification and providing the lessor (SPEDA) access to the property at any time.

"The county doesn't indemnify people," Hatfield explained, adding that in terms of access, "Obviously it's a detention center so you can't have that in there."

The county attorney pointed out that SPEDA's lawyers may not agree with those suggestions, hence the pending nature of the approval.

Sgt. Dick credited Somerset Mayor Alan Keck and SPEDA President and CEO Chris Girdler for their efforts to facilitate the project, which he said the jail had been working toward for about four years.

In other jail business, magistrates approved a new medical contract for PCDC which should begin on January 1 and last for one year. The jail will be switching from Southern Health Partners to Western Kentucky Correctional Healthcare, headquartered in Benton. Sgt. Dick reported that the change should save the county a "conservative" estimate of $56,327.

"It's nice to see that we're actually saving money on medical with the cost of everything going up," Ranshaw commented.

Sgt. Dick credited Pulaski County Jailer Anthony McCollum and Lieutenants Kevin Russell and Tracy Bellamy with ensuring that the companies' terms matched as closely as possible so that they could compare "apples to apples" when it came to negotiating the contract.

"Sometimes whenever there is a savings, you're giving up something," Dick said. "In this, I'm safe to say that we didn't give up anything and probably gained a little bit. Overall, I think it's a very good agreement."

The sergeant also noted that both the re-entry lease and medical contract would be paid for with monies coming from the housing of inmates from other counties. That fund has been a boon to the county over the past six months since PCDC signed a contract with Lincoln County in June to house their inmates after that jail closed. Though jail populations tend to fluctuate, the Lincoln inmates are projected to generate $345,000 a year for PCDC.

Sgt. Dick lastly presented a report on what the jail's work detail had accomplished from February (when inmate work resumed after pandemic restrictions) through mid-December. The crews cleaned up 121 cemeteries, mowed and collected 77.7 tons of trash over a total of 4,666.75 work hours and 906.25 road miles. In addition, inmates were also able to assist with remodeling of the new 911 Center and two County Clerk branches as well as perform Christmas work details for the cities of Burnside, Eubank and Somerset.

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