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County jail in hot water — for now

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BOCC braced to buy new boiler

By Chris Van Ormer

 

Commissioners may face a claim on emergency funds this week because a boiler at the jail must be replaced.

“Unfortunately, when they built the jail, they actually built it around the boiler,” Assistant County Administrator and Public Works Director Ken Frink told Tuesday’s meeting of the Citrus County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC). “So it’s getting quite expensive to replace it.”

The board seemed to identify with Duke Energy’s predicament when replacing steam generators in its Crystal River nuclear unit.

“Are they going to need a crane to lift it out?” asked Commission Chairman Winn Webb.

“They are going to take it apart,” Frink answered.

“You wouldn’t just cut a hole in the side?” asked County Attorney Richard Wesch. 

“And have a delamination?” Commissioner Rebecca Bays responded.

Frink explained that the Citrus County Detention Center in Lecanto has two boilers.

“One of them is broken, for lack of better terms,” Frink said. “Under the auspice of when things break in Public Works they get expensive, our first quote to replace this boiler is $250,000. We are not accepting that, obviously, so we are doing our due diligence in trying to get that cost down and looking at other alternatives. But we do fully expect to come to you guys next week for an emergency action to replace that boiler.”

Both boilers are necessary for the operation of the jail, Frink said.

“They are operating on one, so obviously it’s working on overtime now,” Frink explained. “But in order to comply with state and federal statutes for hot water in a jail, we have to make sure they are with (hot) water at all times. Now they do have a contingency plan should the other one fail. But we can’t limp along very far.”

Bays asked about the occupancy of the jail. County staff answered the jail has a capacity for about 600 inmates. Currently, it holds about 530, of which 350 are county inmates. The remainder is resident through outside contracts.

The advisement was not on the agenda, but was a “heads up,” according to County Administrator Brad Thorpe, to warn of possible emergency action.

Chronicle reporter Chris Van Ormer can be reached at cvanormer@chronicleonline.com or 352-564-2916.