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Rehab could begin soon on old jail

The old vacant jail in downtown Corydon could soon be on the way to rehabilitation.
A plan presented Thursday to the Harrison County Board of Commissioners by the principal architect would cost slightly less than the $500,000 advertised costs and would provide archive storage and at least five county offices.
Joseph M. Mrak of RQAW Consulting Engineers and Architects in Indianapolis presented the plans Monday night to the Harrison County Council, which is expected to vote on the appropriation from riverboat dollars at its April 12 meeting.
The old, two-story, brick building constructed in the 1960s has been wiped clean of lead-based paint, and the old iron bars that imprisoned inmates for more than 30 years have been removed. Other than that activity and the 4-Her’s takeover for a spookhouse each Halloween, the building has been empty since August 1996, when the new Harrison County Justice Center opened in west Corydon.
The makeover was delayed several years while officials waited for word from the adjacent bank’s offer to sell part of its building. If that had happened, the jail and part of the bank building would be linked to provide needed office and storage space, but that plan fell through when the bank decided not to sell.
Since the flood of 1997, when Little Indian Creek filled the Harrison County Annex on South Mulberry Street, a priority has been to relocate the offices there. With the current plan, the Purdue Extension office, parks, and planning and zoning will remain in the building. But those would be moved to the downtown courthouse when and if the circuit court and its supporting offices are moved to the Justice Center site, which is part of the county’s long-range plan.
A request was made several months ago for funding to renovate the jail, but the appropriation was put on hold until floor plans could be produced.
As explained by Mrak, the first floor will consist primarily of storage and record archives. The floor will include a public entrance lobby, a reading room, reception area, toilets, and high-density record storage.
The second floor will house offices for the veterans’ administration, weights and measures, maintenance, solid waste, and emergency management.
All of those offices are now in the Annex, except for maintenance department, which was created with the recent hiring of a full-time maintenance supervisor, David Simon, to take care of all county-owned properties (except parks, which may soon have its own maintenance superintendent).
An elevator will provide access to the second floor. The elevator will be installed on the north side of the building, where steps and a small concrete landing are now located.
Renovation also calls for a new roof, filling in the windows with masonry next to the bank building on the south side, replacement of existing doors and windows on the north and east sides, completely new mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems, new floors, and wall and ceiling finishes for all of the offices.
The construction is estimated to cost $418,000. Altogether, $432,000 remained in the previous allocation. That amount will be requested, to provide a contingency should additional funds be needed.

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