Rio Grande Sheriff’s Department installs new heater in jail

Photos courtesy of Rio Grande County Sheriff's Office Rio Grande County announced the installation of a new heating system for C Pod at the Rio Grande County Jail last week. The installation of the new system will help curtail transfer costs of inmates now that the jail is back up to code.

RIO GRANDE COUNTY —The heat is on again in Rio Grande County Jail’s C Pod.

The Rio Grande County Sheriff’s Department installed a new up-to-code heater in the jail’s C Pod and can move inmates back in after several months of having to transfer them out to other jails.

Rio Grande County Sheriff Don McDonald worked closely with Rio Grande County Commissioners to ensure the heater was installed in a timely manner and now that it meets state standards it will save the county thousands of dollars in transfer and holding fees.

In a January meeting, McDonald explained the situation to commissioners and asked for approval to get new heating equipment for C Pod stating that the heating system had not been up to state code for some time and that the county was losing money having to transfer inmates to other facilities until the unit was fixed or replaced. McDonald spent considerable time and funding to bring the entire jail facility not only up to code but has enhanced its technology.

In January, County Attorney Leslie Klusmire explained the heaters had been looked at but that the system had been discontinued on the company’s operating system.

“Our previous estimate was based on replacing the heater, but we needed to get a specific type of heater which has taken us quite a while to find,” Klusmire said.

Klusmire said they found a company that had the heater the county needed and that their shipping time for the heater was faster than they originally thought.

“Though it is more expensive, the company’s shipping time is much faster than the other company and they offer emergency shutdowns,” Klusmire said. “We have decided to house the inmates in other facilities right now, so it is important to weigh out the expenses. We also have to think about the pipes in that portion of the jail.”

McDonald stated that he discovered that the existing unit that is in place in not complete.

“From what I understand, it was never complete,” he said. “There are missing parts from the unit. When we went up there and inspected the heater, we had to shut down the gas. From what we understand, the missing parts have been gone since the day it was installed.”

McDonald was paying upward of $650 a day for inmates to be housed in neighboring facilities.

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