by BRAD ROLLINS
Hays County officials are working quickly to fix health and safety problems at the jail, County Judge Elizabeth Sumter assured state regulators in a letter on Friday, the last day to meet a deadline imposed by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards.
On Oct. 30, TCJS Executive Director Adan Muñoz gave the county 30 days to report back with proof that problems identified in a September inspection were being corrected. Many of these stem from a leaky roof and heating and ventilation system original to the 20-year-old building. Inspectors in April, and again in September, found mold and mildew in the kitchen area, crack and buckled concrete floors and rust on metal throughout the building.
Then on Oct. 14, a day after the court approved $1.4 million for repairs including a new roof, state inspectors made another ostensibly unannounced visit causing Sheriff Tommy Ratliff to close the cell used for housing violent prisoners, Sumter said.
Outlining steps taken by the court, including the repairs and a $246,400 study of long term jail needs, Sumter wrote, “The court is confident that the results of these studies, our continued deliberation of the issues, and working together in a systematic way will help us provide the best facility for the county. … I assure you that our goal is to fully comply with the requirements of the commission now and in the future.”
On Tuesday, the court is scheduled to consider awarding a $424,000 contract to Austin-based Texas Fifth Wall Roofing to replace the jail’s roof. That contract had been on the court’s Oct. 27 agenda before the session was canceled because it was not properly posted as required by state law.
Two days later, on Thursday, Nov. 5, the state jail commission is scheduled to consider Hays County’s compliant status along with that of Wharton, Wichita and Austin counties. The meeting is 9 a.m. Thursday Nov. 5 in room 120 of the John H. Reagan Building, 105 W. 15th St. in Austin.
Email | Print