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Engineers seek ‘fixes’ for jail water woes

Members of the 911 board took action Thursday to correct water damage problems in the sheriff’s office before new state-funded equipment is moved in, or county employees begin moving out.
Unicoi County Sheriff Mike Hensley said the civil engineering firm Tysinger, Hampton and Partners has recently taken a look at the jail.
“They are looking at some possible fixes,” Hensley said. Unicoi County Mayor Greg Lynch met with Tysinger last week, Hensley said.
Lynch said a jail specialist advised him that the dispatch, new equipment and sheriff’s office employees may need to be moved outside of the building. A full feasibility study would need to be paid for and voted on by the board, Lynch said.
“He’s recommending that we not keep 911 down underneath the jail, and he said it’s never a good idea to have offices down under,” Lynch said.
Tysinger will be submitting a report to the county on a roof situation, which is apparently causing some of the water leak issues in the jail, but not all of them, Lynch said.
“As far as the roof we are supposed to be getting a report soon from Tysinger as to what we can do to fix the roof,” Lynch said. “The roof is part of our flood problem, but also the stopping up of the plumbing upstairs is part of it as well.”
Sheriff Hensley suggested that the board look into the costs associated with moving the offices or fixing the building. He also questioned where to put the staff if they were to be moved from the offices.
“I’ve got some issues with it,” Hensley said. “If it could be fixed affordably, I’m all about saving money for what needs to be done. But, if it can’t be fixed, I’m gonna have to look at getting my people out of there because it’s affecting my office staff.”
911 Board member Doris Hensley suggested looking into grant funding for any cost made with either renovation, moving or building a new facility. A decision has not been determined as to which course of action will be taken to correct the flooding issue.
911 Board Chairman Bill Hensley also suggested bringing the issues to a future meeting of the county commission
“We probably need at the next county court meeting … just to bring their attention to this problem we’re having because it’s their problem, too,” he said. “It’s everybody in the county’s problem. We need to make them aware of them because some things may come up.”
Also at the meeting, a bid was secured with Appalachian CPA for an auditor contract, out of three submitted. Three-year bids included Appalachian CPA at $15,000, Lewis and Associates at $18,000 and Rodefer Moss at $23,400.
Chairman Hensley noted that the county’s approved emergency communication financial statements showed an improvement.
“It looks like 911 is improving monthly and yearly on their assets and things of that nature,” he said. “It looks like we’re getting in much better shape than we have been.”
By Kayla Carter
Staff Writer
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