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County Set On Winter Salt, Jail Population Down, County Prepared For Ebola
Updated October 22, 2014 7:17 AM
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(BEDFORD) - The Lawrence County Commissioners opened bids Tuesday for salt, stone, asphalt, oil and fuel. The cost of salt has skyrocketed.

The county received one bid from Morton Salt for $136.66 a ton, up from $50.02 last year.

Highway Superintendent David Holmes says the increase is because of the harsh winter and a supply shortage. But thankfully the county purchased 12,000 tons at the end of the season last year and got it at the cheaper price. Holmes is hoping that amount will last through the winter.

"We have a good supply of salt," Holmes says. "I ordered at the end of the season knowing the price was going to go up and there was going to be a shortage due to the harsh winter weather conditions, and I am glad I did."

The other bids were taken under advisement.

In other business:

Holmes says bridge 199 on Tunnelton Dennison Road will be open today. Bridge crews continue to haul stone and fill-dirt at Mount Pleasant Road and that work should be complete in about a week. Bridge inspectors will meet with Holmes to inspect the new Mount Pleasant bridge and will give their findings on the bridge on Jasper McKeigg Road.

Sheriff Sam Craig reported there are 102 inmates housed at the county jail. Of those 7 are Department of Correction holds and 19 are females.

When asked what is keeping the number of inmates down, Craig credited the decrease to house arrest.

"Non-violent offenders are being sentenced to house arrest, keeping our numbers down" Craig says. "And those committing offenses like - driving while their driver's license is suspended and those in possession of under 30 grams of marijuana - are being cited into court, instead of being booked into the jail."

That is solving some of the overcrowding issues at the jail.

"Nonviolent offenders are now paying for their own house arrest instead of taxpayers flipping the bill," says Commissioner Bill Spreen. "Instead of it costing us, it cost the offenders."

Commissioner David Flinn stated house arrest also allows the person to work.

"That way it takes the hardship off their families," Flinn added.

Craig added that keeping the number of DOC holds down is also helping.

"It wasn't good when we were housing 10 to 15 a month," Craig added. "The attitude is different in the facility when DOC inmates are not there. After sentencing they don't want to be held here and that can cause problems. They want to go to DOC so they can begin programs. We still have some issues - its jail, but not nearly the problems we had before."

Craig said because the numbers are down he is planning to have the cell blocks painted.

"This way we can move them from the block while the work is being done," Craig says.

Valerie Luchauer, of Emergency Management, told the commissioners that the county is ready if Ebola becomes an issue in Lawrence County.

"We conducted open discussions on Ebola, the threat and emergency planning involving both hospitals, all emergency services, fire departments and law enforcement agencies," Luchauer added. "The policies are changing daily on how to deal with Ebola, but we are keeping up to date."

The department also received 280 weather radios.

"Those will take care of the individuals that are on our waiting list," Luchauer added. "We also have some for Veteran Services to hand out to the veterans."

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