By Alyssa Frierson and Shereen Siewert
Unsafe conditions at the Marathon County Jail that resulted in dozens of inmates either being transferred to other facilities or being released on GPS monitors have now been mitigated, county officials said Thursday.
During a county board meeting on Thursday, Marathon County Interim Administrator Lance Leonhard summarized the issues with the jail that ultimately prompted county officials to declare an emergency to fund the roughly $2 million repair project.
“In layman’s terms, the floor was bending and it was putting weight on the interior walls, when really that load should have been dispersed out to the load-bearing columns,” Leonhard said Thursday.
Structural issues, including significant cracks in floors, were first detected about five years ago, but were not significant enough to require immediate attention. A July 19 report revealed that significant snow loads and extreme temperatures intensified previously identified structural issues, which prompted an emergency declaration to allocate money for the jail repair, paid through working capital reserves.
In July, then-Administrator Brad Karger declared an emergency, which allowed for immediate funding of the project.
To fix the issue, the floor was x-rayed to pinpoint problem locations, 49 columns and 1,800 bolts were installed, Leonard said. While the initial scope of the work increased the project ultimately came in under budget.The jail is now safer and inmates are back in the Marathon County Jail, officials said.
The next step is for the board to declare the emergency to have ended, reinstating standard procurement rules. The board will discuss and approve ending the emergency declaration during their Feb. 25 meeting.