UNION COUNTY — More than $50,000 will be spent on new fencing and wiring and on additional cameras to improve security at the Union County Jail and Union County Detention Center.
In its Februrary meeting Tuesday afternoon, Union County County voted unanimously to award the folllowing bids presented by Union County Sheriff David Taylor for improving security at the detention center and the jail:
• $38,633 to A1 Fencing Company for new fencing and wiring at the jail and the detention center.
• $15,300 to MSS for 13 new cameras at the jail.
Taylor said the cameras will go inside the jail to eliminate several blind areas that are not covered by the cameras currently in use. He said that with the addition of the 13 new cameras there will be a total of 30 cameras in the jail. He said they will be monitored by a jail officer in the booking area.
As for the wiring and fencing, Taylor said they will be enclosing the entire jail and detention center compound. Taylor this will include an automatic gate to limit unauthorized access to the facility. He said it will also include concertina wire on the current facility and secure the recreation areas where the last escape occurred.
“We are required by the Department of Corrections standards that inmates have a certain amount of recreation time per day. This will add extra security to those areas.
At the recommendation of Union County Supervisor Frank Hart, the improvements will be paid for out of the county’s capital improvements fund and its contingency fund.
Security at the jail and the detention center has been a concern for several years with Taylor reporting to council on the deteriorating condition of the facilities, especially the jail which has also experienced continuous overcrowding. The problems of security at the jail were demonstrated in August 2016 when two inmates, one of them charged with murder, escaped, triggering an 18-hour manhunt that ended with the two being recaptured the next day in the Buffalo Community. The inmates were returned to the Union County Jail but were subsequently transferred to the Spartanburg County Jail where they remained until their respective trials.
Taylor said at the time that the inmates escaped from the jail’s recreation yard by breaking a hinge on the surrounding chain link fence enabling them to squeeze through. Once they’d squeezed through the fence, Taylor said the inmates threw a blanket over the concertina wire at the top of the fence which enabled them to pull themselves over the top and onto the roof. He said they then ran across the roof to the side of the building that was not fenced in, jumped to the ground, and took off running.
Council also voted unanimously to approve a recommendation from Taylor and Ivestigator Scott Coffer that the county change its wrecker service fees so parallel those charged by the SC Highway Patrol. Taylor said this will eliminate confusion as to what the wrecker services can charge for towing a vehicle for the county. He said it will increase the fee by $14 to $214.
Council also voted unanimously to approve a request by Union County Election Commission Chairman Keith Vanderford that the county purchase two new voting machines for $5,000.
Vanderford said that the SC General Assembly is considering a request for $8 million to refurbish voting machines statewide. He said the state hopes to refurbish all voting machines instead of replacing them.
While the hope is that all the county’s existing machines will be refurbished by the state, Vanderford said the two new machines are needed to ensure the county has enough machines for its voters. Vanderford said that when all machines are deployed to the county’s precincts there are sometimes not enough at the Voter Registrar’s Office for people voting absentee. In addition, once all the machines are in use, Vanderford said there are none to spare and none to replace any if they malfunction.
Council also voted unanimously to set the hours of operation for offices in the Union County Courthouse and at other county business offices at 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Hart pointed out that some offices in the courthouse opened earlier than others and this was causing some confusion and difficulties for residents who come to the courthouse to find one office they need open but another still closed.
With the setting of the new, uniform hours the county is hoping to eliminate such confusion and difficulties.
Council also filled a number of seats on a number of commissions and boards Tuesday evening. Those commissions and boards and the persons appointed to them are:
• Airport Commission — Michael A. Gregory, Joey English, and John L. McKnight
• Fair Board — Mark Wade, Carolyn A. Glenn, and Andrew L. Shugart
• Library Board — Gary Farnsworth, Cynthia F. Langley, and William M. Rochester
• Stadium Commission — Chris Woodson, Tony Gregory, and Paul Winters
• Tourism Commission — Lynda Carey-Clark, Melody Porter, Margie Ruff, Elizabeth “Libby” Oliver, and Tracy Rash
• Development Board — Joe Nichols (Public Utilities), Andrena Powell-Baker (Private Utilities), L. Ray Switzer (Higher Education), and Joe Hines Jr. (Member At-Large)
Council made a number of appointments to the governing boards of the several of the county’s fire districts. Those fire districts and the persons appointed to their governing boards are:
• Bonham — Phillip A. Garner, Jeff Cannon, Rodney B. Gallman, and Mark A. Foster
• Buffalo — Leslie K. Gibson Sr., Maxie Ponder, and Craig D. Price
• Carlisle — Terry Worthy, Robert J. Clark, and Willie Gist
• Cross Keys — James R. Rice, Michael R. Smith, Sabrina M. Heuring, Jimmy Estes, Billy Lawson, Elly smith, Louid Dustin Harmon, and Mary B. Nation
• Kelly-Kelton — James R. Garner
• Philippi — Olin Robinson, Jerry Nance, Chuck Montgomery, Richard Owens, Carrol Alexander Jr., and Mike O’Dell.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090.