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Jail cells reopened, thanks to work of County DPW workers

By Dan Hust
MONTICELLO — August 3, 2010 — The NYS Commission of Correction (CoC) recently agreed to allow the Sullivan County Jail in Monticello to reopen 22 of its 43 closed cells.
The state had shuttered those cells earlier in the year after steel structural supports in the century-old prison were found to be rusting away.
Jail Administrator Hal Smith and Undersheriff Eric Chaboty confirmed last week that the county’s Division of Public Works had repaired the steel and several plumbing issues to CoC’s satisfaction.
However, 21 cells out of a total of 207 remain closed.
“We’re still boarding out,” explained Smith, “because our population has gone right through the roof.”
Eighteen inmates were being boarded out this past week, he said.
Plus, antiquated sewer lines, inadequate room sizes and the jail’s aged condition continue to concern the state, so Chaboty remains worried.
“At best, it’s a temporary fix,” he remarked.
Still, this gives the county some breathing room, as legislators don’t intend to build a new jail near Route 17’s Exit 104 until the funding picture improves.
“I think it buys us some more time,” acknowledged Deputy County Manager Josh Potosek, noting that if the CoC had closed more cells, “it would have forced our hand a little more.”
He credited county workers with helping avert a crisis, as did Legislator David Sager, chair of the Legislature’s Public Works Committee, which has often been focused on the jail.
“I am very pleased to see that the state Commission of Correction is working with us in the short term to deal with our current facility issues,” Sager related.
“I know that none of this would be possible without the hard work of Jail Administrator Hal Smith in effectively discussing our issues with the CoC, as well as workers within the Department of Public Works for doing such an excellent job of rehab and repair on the structures in question,” he said.

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