DARKE COUNTY—The Darke County Sheriff’s Office was awarded $1,840,235.00, in the form of a Local Jail Capital Project Grant, from the State of Ohio and the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.
The grant is possible through Senate Bill 310, of the 133rd General Assembly of the State of Ohio, in which bonds were issued for the Adult Correctional Building Fund. The grant application process began last year and in March of this year the office was asked to resubmit updated information for the grant request.
The grant will be used to improve the safety of jail staff and modernize key components of the nearly 40 year old Darke County Jail. Much of the jail uses the original equipment, doors and controls that it opened with in 1983. Slated for replacement or improvement are all secure jail doors and the mechanical systems that operate them. A new integrated door control, security video and audio communication system will also be installed.
“A lot of these systems are 39 years old,” Sheriff Mark Whittaker said. “They are the original doors, the original system that operates the doors. They’ve operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week for 39 years and they’ve reached the end of their life. We spend a lot of money trying to maintain them, and the parts are no longer available.”
Commissioner Larry Holmes said Sheriff Whittaker was relentless in his application process.
“I’d like to take the time to congratulate Sheriff Whittaker and his staff for making this happen,” he said. “They persistently kept at it. There was a need, there’s a lot of needs, but this one was pressing for our staff, as well as our visitors. I want to congratulate, and thank, Sheriff Whittaker for keeping at the topic, because we got ‘No’ more than once to our request.”
The office submitted a project cost totaling $2,003,235, to which they received $1,840,235. The county will contribute $163,000 to the project. The office was notified on May 4, that funding was approved.
The Board of Darke County Commissioners will sign to officially accept the grant on Thursday during regular session. Sheriff Whittaker said they will begin meeting with contractors in two weeks.