Hamilton County to replace ceiling at jail

Hamilton County to replace ceiling at jail

July 4th, 2013 by Louie Brogdon in Local Regional News

The Hamilton County Jail is seen in this 2008 file photo.

Photo by Tim Barber/Times Free Press.

In other business

County commissioners on Wednesday:

• Agreed to enter an $11,000 health insurance consulting agreement with Russ Blakely & Associates.

• Agreed to enter two contracts with Big Woody's Tree Service for providing safe mulch for the recreation department and tree trimming services.

• Agreed to allow Mowbray Volunteer Fire Department to sell a 2003 Ford Explorer, which is co-titled by the county. Proceeds will go toward the purchase of firefighting equipment.

• Agreed to a $26,461 contract with Star Creations for appliances at Red Bank Middle School and Ooltewah Elementary School, which are slated to open in August.

Commissioners voted Wednesday to replace a treacherous ceiling over six holding cells in the Hamilton County Justice Building, to update and digitize Juvenile Court's fingerprinting system and then held a closed-door meeting about pending litigation.

County Director of Engineering John Agan told commissioners last week the metal mesh drop ceiling over six holding cells in a processing area of the jail needed to be replaced. Inmates are tearing pieces off the drop ceiling and using the scrap metal to cut themselves, Agan said.

A solid steel ceiling needs to be put in place, but Agan said the county doesn't have the resources to do such a heavy-duty job.

Commissioners unanimously voted Wednesday at a regular meeting to pay J&J Contractors $75,138 to do the work. According to the resolution passed Wednesday, J&J was the only bidder.

In another item that received full support of commissioners -- minus Fred Skillern, who was absent -- Juvenile Court will get $21,550 in scanning equipment to digitize its fingerprinting process. Juvenile Court Administrator Sam Mairs told commissioners last week during an agenda session the upgrade would help the court share information with the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office.

At the close of the meeting, commissioners entered an executive session at the request of County Attorney Rheubin Taylor. Taylor said before the meeting he could only say it involved "pending litigation" and couldn't give further details.

The county is a defendant in a lawsuit levied by resident Helen Burns Sharp against Chattanooga, the Industrial Development Board and the county. Sharp claims the three defendants inappropriately agreed to pay $9 million in taxpayer money to the developer of Black Creek Mountain on Aetna Mountain.

The county has denied all of Sharp's claims, and commissioners have answered few questions posed by Sharp and her attorney. But on June 21, Chancellor W. Frank Brown ordered that the county had 15 days to "submit responses to [Sharp's] interrogatories and requests for production of documents and things."

Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at 423-757-6481 or lbrogdon@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter at @glbrogdoniv.