Apr. 19—County commissioners approved expenditures from pandemic-relief funds for “long overdue” repairs of the cooling system at Muskogee County/City Detention Facility.
Muskogee County Undersheriff Greg Martin said rust has infiltrated the chiller and piping that makes up the cooling system built in 1986. He said problems attributed to the rust and corrosion have “been getting worse over the years.”
“If we don’t get it corrected, it could cause some issues,” Martin said about the aging system. “We also had problems with our main controller that needs to be replaced. It’s been an ongoing problem.”
District 3 Commissioner Kenny Payne said the heating and cooling system at the jail required significant repairs during the course of a year. He said it was becoming too costly to justify the expense of repairs required to keep the system operational, so commissioners began working with Martin and Sheriff Andy Simmons in ways to fund the more than $189,400 expense of repiping the system.
Commissioners approved expenditures from the county’s $13 million allocation of American Rescue Plan Act funding made available to local governments. Officials said the expense from the pandemic-relief funds approved by Congress and signed into law within weeks of President Joe Biden taking office.
“We were going to have to do it anyway…, but the ARPA funds absolutely helped. I’m glad we have them,” Payne said. “But we weren’t going to have a choice, so either way we were going to have to do something with the heat and cooling system.”
Simmons described the repairs of a system that is “in bad shape” as “long overdue.”
“In the wintertime it’s hard to keep it warm, and in the summer it’s hard to keep it cool,” Simmons said. “This is definitely a step in the right direction.”
Martin said it was something that had to be done in order to operate the jail in accordance with state jail standards.
“It’s a big deal,” Martin said about the importance of the HVAC work that is planned and maintaining operational standards. “If you’re going to be in the business of running a jail you have to keep it up to those standards.”
Martin said the project, which will get underway “just as soon as possible,” will “improve ventilation and air quality inside the jail.” He said that will promote a healthier environment inside the jail.
In addition to the ARPA expenditure approved Monday for the jail, commissioners approved the use of ARPA funds totaling $350,000 for an overlay project on Fern Mountain Road. Payne said the 3.2-mile project will extend from US 69 to North 64th Street West.