By Wayne Allen
Officials with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections were making efforts to organize a meeting between officials in Lawrence and Scioto County Officials to talk about issue they have revolving around Lawrence County opening a jail in Scioto County.
The Lawrence County Commissioners have made it known they are anticipating entering into an agreement with the state of Ohio. The agreement would allow the commissioners to use the Liberation Unit of the former Ohio River Valley Juvenile Correctional Facility (ORV) as a jail for 15 years.
The state has committed over $500,000 to make improvements to the Liberation Unit before Lawrence County moves in.
Since the possibility of a meeting was made known, Scioto County officials were anticipating an invitation to participate that never officially came.
The Scioto County Commissioners were informally invited to the meeting by one of the Lawrence County Commissioners at a meeting of the Lawrence Scioto Solid Waste Management District.
Mike Crabtree, Chairman of the Scioto County Commissioners,”We were anticipating going to the meeting, but if there is no meeting I’m not going to drive up there for an empty building. We have not gotten an official word one way or the other, but we’ll have to make some phone calls to make sure the meeting has been canceled,” Crabtree said.
The Scioto County Commissioners recently authorized the hiring of outside legal council to explore and research what it would take to possibly challenge the constitutionality of House Bill 483.
In House Bill 483 the Lawrence County Sheriff is given jurisdiction over the Liberation Unit of ORV and the Lawrence County Prosecutor was given jurisdiction to prosecute crimes that occur in the unit.
The state has offered to lease the Lawrence County Commissioners the Liberation Unit of ORV for 15 years to open a jail. The state as offered the rest of the ORV facility to STAR Community Justice Center for expansion.
Currently STAR Community Justice Center is located across from ORV.
Since the intentions of the Lawrence County Commissioners was announced some Scioto County officials have been uneasy about the decision for various reasons.
After hearing the news that Scioto County was hiring outside legal council, Boggs said, “Everyone has to do what they have to do and we’re doing what we feel is best for our county at this time.”
Earlier this year the Ohio Department of Administrative Services solicited bids from perspective buyers of ORV. Beth Gianforcaro, Director of Communications for the Ohio Department of Administrative Services said, “The State of Ohio has rejected all of the bids for the sale of the former Ohio River Valley Juvenile Correctional site. The Department of Administrative Services has received a letter of interest from the Lawrence County Commissioners to house its jail in the Liberation Building on the property. The State of Ohio intends to work with Lawrence County on this concept. “
Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 1933 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT