Morgan County Jail Needs New Generator

By Benjamin Cox on March 13, 2024 at 5:34am

Major rehabilitation of the security system at the Morgan County Jail is complete.

Morgan County Sheriff Mike Carmody says that the next piece is getting the Detention Facility a new generator. Carmody requested funds from the Morgan County Commissioners on Monday morning to replace the current generator, which is original to the building built in 1984.

Carmody says that the generator is a vital piece of keeping the Sheriff’s Office running during natural disasters and power outages: “Everything has gone digital: our radio systems are digital; the computer systems that we tie in with all the surrounding law enforcement. We are hooked in with EMS, 9-1-1. We are the point of contact that needs to keep running. Right now, we have battery backups that can take care of that for a half hour to an hour. But in the event of a long-term power outage of a week or more, our generator would be able to handle the load for most of the jail. It would not be able to handle the entire jail.”

Carmody says that the new generator would be a self-contained, outdoor unit. He says that the outdoor unit would likely eliminate any instances of a diesel fuel smell that would filter inside the building, like what happens currently when the older unit gets refueled.

Carmody told the Commissioners that the current unit has incurred high maintenance costs and more and more parts are becoming obsolete and harder to find, making it more difficult to fix it when it breaks down.

Carmody says that the unit is also crucial to the brand new security system in the jail: “The cells can’t all be opened manually. In the event of an emergency, we have plans in place that we would need the power to do it more ‘cleanly’ – I guess is the word to use; and other than going from block to block with a key – and each block is keyed differently – in the emergency situation, we would count on that to get people evacuated.”

Carmody gave a rough estimate of between $38,000-$45,000 to replace the generator, with the labor to install the unit putting the total cost likely above $75,000 for the project.

There is a $75,000 spending limit on American Rescue Plan Act projects, which the generator project would qualify for, but due to the total cost going above the threshold, it would likely spur more paperwork and further approval from the federal government.

Carmody told the Commissioners he would explore some other funding avenues for the project to keep the cost below the threshold. He says it will likely be another 3-6 months before a new generator at the jail would be installed.