Commissioners extend pact with company operating jail

LISBON — The private company that operates the Columbiana County Jail will continue to do so after county commissioners exercised their option to extend the contract for another two years.

Commissioners on Wednesday renewed the contract with GEO Corrections and Detention LLC through 2019 under the same terms and conditions as set forth in the master agreement, which means the company will continue to operate the jail at a daily rate of $74.90 per inmate, up to 120 inmates. The jail can house up to 200 inmates but occupancy rarely approaches that level.

While the current master operating agreement renewed in 2013 runs through 2019, it included two-year extension options for 2016-17 and in 2018-19. That contract was with Community Education Centers, which was purchased earlier in the year by GEO for $360 million.

Commissioner Mike Halleck said GEO will continue to charge the same rate, which was last increased in 2016 as part of a two-year extension. He said GEO wanted a rate increase this time but commissioners opted to stick with the agreement that locks in the current rate until the master agreement expires in 2020.

Halleck made reference to four jail wardens who have come and gone over the past two years and recent criticism of jail conditions, saying they are pleased with the newest warden and improvements made by GEO.

“People who may complain the most have never even been in the jail,” Halleck said, a recent state inspector commented on how the jail was one the cleanest they have seen.

In other action at this week’s meeting, commissioners received a revised petition asking they officially close sections of Bloomfield and Chardon avenues in St. Clair Township that exist only on paper and have never been used or maintained as public thoroughfares. The original petition was dismissed last month because of problems with the application.

The new petition filed by Dan Curnutte, who lives on Bloomfield Avenue, includes a legal description showing how the property will be divided among the adjacent property owners, who are in favor. There was also the issue of adjoining property the East Liverpool CIC was going to deed over to Curnutte after it was found to include his driveway, but officials learned the property will be transferred only after commissioners officially close the roads.

Commissioners also renewed a contract with Land Approach Ltd. of Salem for snow-removal services this winter at the county government services building. County Department of Job and Family Services Director Eileen Dray-Bardon, whose department takes about 75 percent of the building, recommended the contract be renewed, with a ceiling amount of $12,000.

She said they only call Land Approach when there is 2 inches of snow or more, and last year snow removal cost them $5,775, but it was mild winter compared to the previous year.