Sheriff seeks grant to build a new jail
Plumas County Sheriff Greg Hagwood is seeking $20 million to build a new jail in East Quincy and he has the Board of Supervisors’ backing to do it.
“This is a topic that goes back over 30 years,” Hagwood told the board Jan. 8. “A number of different circumstances create a unique opportunity.”
Those circumstances include another round of grant funding from the Board of Corrections that earmarks $100 million for small counties (under 200,000 in population). Grant applications are due in May.
Hagwood would seek the maximum allocation a county could receive — $20 million — a figure that he believes is more than adequate to build a 31,500-square-foot structure that could house 100 inmates.
The jail currently operates under a consent decree and can only house 37 inmates.
“It has been the subject of grand jury reports for 20 years,” Hagwood said. “We are all acutely aware of the difficulties.”
The Plumas County jail is one of the few remaining linear jails in the state.
“It’s an atrocious design for staff and inmate safety,” Hagwood said.
“I’ve been there,” Supervisor Lori Simpson said. “It’s not safe for staff at all.”
While the supervisors agree that a new jail is necessary, the problem has always been how to fund it.
Even if the state were to award Plumas $20 million, the county would still need a 5 percent match of $1 million and the ability to staff the new facility.
Supervisor Simpson cited Shasta as an example of one county that received a grant, but had to decline it, because it couldn’t afford the employees to operate it.
“That’s happened across the state,” Hagwood said, adding that “stellar facilities” have been built but now sit empty.
Hagwood said that with a contemporary facility he could “manage, supervise and care for more inmates, more safely and efficiently” with current staff.
As for the $1 million match, Hagwood said that could be satisfied by property acquisition and personnel time.
Potential jail location
Hagwood has a property in mind — the former Trilogy Magnetics building and property, now owned by Plumas Bank, on North Mill Creek Road in East Quincy.
The 18,000-square-foot building sits on 4.5 acres of land in an industrial area not far from the county animal shelter. Hagwood envisions transforming two-thirds of the building into space for the probation and sheriff’s departments, leaving 6,000 square feet that could be used for other county departments or leased. A portion of the building is currently home to Plumas Charter School.
“I would love my kid to be at school with the sheriff’s department next door,” Supervisor Jon Kennedy said.
Hagwood said that he would welcome the school to stay.
The building is attractive to Hagwood because it is energy efficient, meets ADA requirements, has backup power and extensive security systems, and also has upgraded electrical, heating and cooling systems.
Additionally, the site is ideally situated to use solar power.
Hagwood said that between probation and his department, the outlay for propane, fuel oil and electricity is $60,000 annually. “We could cut those expenses in half,” he said.
The site is also in a nonresidential area.
“We don’t have a Little League field 30 yards away,” Hagwood said. “And we don’t have a public road driving right up to the fence,” referring to the jail’s current situation.
Hagwood envisions building the jail on the area next to the new sheriff’s department. Details about the jail construction, whether it is a modular design or traditional construction, will come later.
But the location comes at a price — $2 million. Hagwood said that’s the number that informal discussions with Plumas Bank have yielded.
Hagwood cited a variety of funding sources to help pay for the property: a USDA loan at 4 percent, Homeland Security funds, state 911 funds, liquidating or leasing existing properties (the probation and sheriff’s buildings on East Main Street), reduced operating costs and other state revenue.
“The whole goal is to find non-general funds to accomplish this acquisition,” Hagwood said.
There’s also potential to rent jail space to nearby counties.
“If a neighboring county is running out of room, we could ‘rent a room’ for a month,” Hagwood said, noting that he isn’t interested in housing inmates for multiple years because that could impact local schools and social services, because families often relocate to be near inmates.
Having the ability to partner with other counties is also good for the application process because it’s a contemporary trend to pool resources.
After Hagwood outlined his funding ideas, Supervisor Terry Swofford said, “It looks like the stars and the moon would have to line up.”
Supervisor Kennedy said, “This is probably as good a scenario as Plumas County will ever see in its lifetime, but can we afford it?”
“Can we afford not to?” Hagwood replied.
With board approval, the task of assembling the application begins. Successful applications for these funds have averaged from 400 to 600 pages.
“This requires considerable countywide commitment,” Hagwood said.