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December 07, 2016
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Forward motion on new Sullivan County Jail; competing plan sketched out

There is forward motion to build a new jail to replace the Sullivan County Jail, which is more than 100 years old, the oldest in the state.

County Treasurer Ira Cohen, who brought Goldberg to the attention of the legislature, disagreed that they should present again. He said the process was not a contest between the two, and instead, the sheriff’s office should put together the specifications of what is needed, and the county should issue a request for proposals (RFP).

Legislator Kathy LaBuda, who, as chair of the public works committee, has worked on the jail project longer than most others, said both companies should have the opportunity to present again, even if an RFP goes out. She also noted that the county has a contract with LaBella.

Samuelson said it was clear that an RFP would need to be issued.

The proposed new county jail has been an issue for decades, but for the past few years forward motion on the project was halted by the weak economy. Now, however, the county is facing payments of up to $1 million a year to board prisoners out to other jails because of space limitations. Further, the COC is demanding that the county move forward or face possible closure of the existing jail. Therefore there is new pressure on the legislature to take action.