Juniata County prison building to have new life

MIFFLINTOWN — Closed since 2012, the former Juniata County Prison building, as well as a portion of the Juniata County Courthouse, is about to undergo improvements and renovations following an announcement Tuesday by the Juniata County Board of Commissioners.

Jim Bahorik, county administrator, said sealed bids for construction of courthouse improvements and former prison building renovations will be received by his office until 2 p.m. July 18.

Work at the former prison building, Bahorik said, includes installing a secure sally port that will be enclosed and used for inmate transfers. He said the building’s current holding cells will also be renovated and, “An area of the newer part of the building will serve a dual purpose: an expanded emergency services operation center when needed and as a flex area for county staff meetings, trainings and things of that nature.”

Bahorik said the renovations will also include designated areas for storage of maintenance equipment, as well as voting equipment and supplies together in one spot. Other undesignated flex areas will include space for outside auditors and vendors, he added.

In addition to those upgrades, the project will include combining the heating and cooling units of both buildings into one centralized system in an enclosed partition on the roof of the newer part of the jail building. “There are several things being improved simultaneously within this project,” Bahorik noted.

Commissioner Alice Gray said this announcement has been a long time coming.

“We’re very excited,” she stated. “The prison has been closed since 2012 and we’ve been working diligently to decide the best purpose and to restore that building for use. We feel this is going to be a very good project.”

In other business Tuesday, the commissioners:

¯ Approved a purchase of service agreement between Juniata County Children and Youth Services, the Juniata County Probation Department and Youth Service Inc. for the period July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019, and July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2020.

¯ Approved a purchase of service agreement between Juniata County Children and Youth Services and Tammy Dusharm, Esquire, for Guardian Ad Litem services at an hourly rate of $65 for the period June 6, 2019, through Dec. 31, 2019.

¯ Acknowledged the resignation of Madelyn Armstrong as a Children and Youth caseworker, effective June 28.

¯ Announced that Paula McConahy, who was approved as a Children and Youth caseworker on May 28, has since declined the position.

¯ Approved the hiring of Zachary Bowsman as a probation/domestic relations enforcement officer, effective July 1, with wages and benefits as per the current bargaining unit contract.

¯ Approved payment of bills in the amount of $137,575.30.