RGC Undersheriff Hart gives facility update to commissioners

RIO GRANDE COUNTY — Rio Grande County Undersheriff Heath Hart gave an update on the continuing facility issues at the Rio Grande County Sheriff’s Office and Jail during a Rio Grande County Board of Commissioners meeting on Feb. 15.

Hart said that he and Sheriff Anne Robinson want to keep the prospect of a new facility on the table for discussion.

“We just want to keep on your radar about a new facility,” Hart said. “We are paying out a lot of money for maintenance on our current facility with plumbing and everything else.”

Hart explained that there appears to be rust inside the pipes that a plumber has tried to clear out but that it keeps reoccurring.

Sheriff Robinson has been discussing the possibility for a new facility that could potentially be built on land the county owns by the Kent Rominger Airport but plans for the facility are in the early stages of discussion. The current facility is several years old and different issues are popping up and changing from day to day.

“It also looks like our hot water heater is going down so the plumber is working on getting some replacement parts and working on some of our pods,” Hart said. “After talking about it with the sheriff, with what we are paying out in maintenance fees, in a couple of years we could almost buy a new facility just because we are really paying that much for maintenance. Having a plumber in there almost once a week is too much.”

According to Chairman Gene Glover the current facility has four more payments before the building will be paid off and at that time, the southern addition to the building will be 21 years old and that he was not sure how old the north side of the building was, but that it was older. Other issues include leaking water from condensation accumulated from a heating element in the kitchen, repairs done to the roof and cells, upgrades to walls and other interior repairs.

Commissioner Scott Deacon pointed out that there should not be these types of issues with a 20-year-old building and that something needed to be done. Glover also agreed that had they saved the money they have spent on repairs over the last 20 years, they could have used it to build a new facility.

“Nothing is wrong with piecemealing things back together but now something has to be done,” Glover said.

Glover also clarified that even if a new facility is built, the current jail will still be used because of the work that is being done on it.

After completing his report on the maintenance of the sheriff’s office and jail, Hart said that the department has issued the new pistols to officers and completed training.

“Our new rifles should be in by mid- to late-March as they are being built. We are also looking at some options for optics for the rifles,” Hart said.

Like many law enforcement agencies throughout the country, the Rio Grande County Sheriff’s Office is seeking additional officers to fill vacancies throughout the department. Hart reported that they had received a few new applicants but that they hoped to increase interest and get more. The department wants to hire a new Patrol Sargent but will be looking at the testing polls to select a top candidate for the position.