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Jail boiler passes its prime

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By Kevin Koelling, Managing Editor

TELL CITY - Perry County Council members approved a motion of intent at their regular meeting Oct. 25 to authorize up to $22,000 out of the county's cumulative-capital account to fund repairs to the county jail's boiler and heating system.

Sheriff Bob Glenn, who informed the county commissioners of the problem at their regular meeting three days before, told the council a jail inspector found water on the floor under the boiler.

Considering the cost of opening the boiler, replacing parts and reassembling it, "it's better off to replace it," he said. He found the life expectancy on such a system is 12 to 15 years, he told the commissioners. "We got 12 out of it."

Asked to examine the boiler, plumber Tommy Peter found "the whole bottom is coming out," Glenn said. The inspector wouldn't issue a certificate, and "could say the facility is no longer usable, in which case we'd have to move the inmates to other facilities at a cost of $35 per day (each)" he continued. "That and transportation costs would add up to a lot more than the replacement cost."

The system is supposed to be closed, allowing water to circulate without air entering. Leaks prevent it from working and raise humidity levels, which allows mold to grow on walls.

Portable heaters are used in the women's section, Glenn explained.

In addition to the boiler, pumps on men's and women's sides and in the office area need to be replaced. Three thermostats will be installed, he added, saying none are in place now.

In addition to age, "minerals in Cannelton's water takes its toll," the sheriff said. The facility's winter heating bills run $800 to $900 monthly.

He told the council he hoped to have the work done before the weather turns cold.

"Would it make sense to put a water conditioner in?" council President Pete Franzman asked.

"It would make a lot of sense," Glenn replied. "I may be able to swing a water conditioner from my commissary fund."