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New Grant County Jail

Welcome to the Central Services "New Jail" blog, which is intended to provide general information to the public and stay up to date on the progress of the new jail.

The creator of content for this blog is the Central Services Director, Tom Gaines. I will endeavor to keep this updated often but currently have no exact timeline for posting updates. You can subscribe to the blog here and select this blog under the "blog" category. By subscribing, you will receive notifications whenever I do provide updates.

You may contact me directly at the County Courthouse, 509-754-2011 extension 3276, with questions or concerns, and I will gladly try to answer any questions one may have. It is intended to provide public information for a project that could have a significant and positive impact on the community. Members of the public are always invited to contact the elected official for their district and voice concerns if they so desire.

May 09

Our social media lookouts

Posted on May 9, 2022 at 11:30 AM by Tom Gaines

excavator

As discussed in previous posts, we are performing survey work at the new jail site. One of these surveys is a traffic study. You will see the traffic counter across the highway near Route 282 and Walmart. We have an estimated number of trips per day to and from the new jail. We will combine this with the amount of traffic we see from the counter and collaborate with the city and the WSDOT to inform a future decision regarding a possible round-a-bout. I don't know if one will be built, but the numbers and the collaboration between the various entities who know more about this than I do will dictate that intersection's future needs (if any).

The Public should be aware that they will see survey crews near the road and maybe in areas they are not used to seeing anyone. It doesn't mean we are building anything but simply marking out the boundaries so we can effectively plan.

Those on social media have spotted the excavator on site. The purpose of the excavator is to dig test pits. These pits help us determine soil composition, which provides data on the soil and its percolation rates. This data is needed to engineer the foundations of any new buildings, understand the soil loading limitations (if any)  and deal with stormwater runoff and absorption rates.

I know this blog is not being updated that often. I am trying to update it as things progress and currently, there isn't a lot happening. Anyone with questions or concerns can reach out to me directly, and I can try to answer any questions they might have.

Feb 18

Answering a few questions

Posted on February 18, 2022 at 12:31 PM by Tom Gaines

SAFETY-FIRST

After purchasing the property and the news broke that the County now owns the raceway, we have received calls from residents who want to access the site and remove things so they can remember it. The track holds special memories for many residents, including some who work here in the County.

We have numerous issues. The track has been abandoned for many years and is not the safest place to walk around looking for things (that mostly no longer exist). Gangs have tagged numerous areas of the concession stands, and the doors have been broken, the surrounding fence pulled down in one area, there are exposed electrical wires, and the ticket gates have also been broken into and vandalized. We found a box of old trophies, mostly broken in half by vandals. The kitchen areas and bathrooms were also broken into and showed signs of illicit activity. Much garbage is dumped in the area on the track site and the adjoining parcel, and because of this, we can't allow folks to wander around out there.

The County has a lot to do with the site before we can begin construction. We will soon perform a boundary and topographic survey to ensure the parcel's exact points and determine easements for access roads. A geotechnical survey to determine bearing capacity for building foundations, a cultural survey, and we are working on a cleanup plan. This work takes time to complete, and all of it must be completed before performing any actual construction. There are numerous other "hoops" the County must jump through successfully before construction begins, and as we work through those processes, we we will discuss them in this blog. Please stay tuned as we move forward, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, but forward.

Feb 16

Social Media and the News

Posted on February 16, 2022 at 5:09 PM by Tom Gaines

True or False

The County officially owns the track and its immediate surrounding properties. This purchase wasn't a "land grab," as some have made it out to be. Even though the public had little opposition to utilizing the Port, the Port denied our request to purchase the property. As discussed in previous posts, the other two out of three sites we considered were not compatible.

The County wanted to act and reached out to the track owners, and although it was not listed, it turned out it was for sale. This outreach was the first time the County had contact with the owners. We found out the City had made an offer on the track as they were already interested in the property. They had offered a price to the owners and were upfront about it. However, no earnest money had been exchanged, and no formal offer in writing. The County spoke with the City and made them aware of our intentions to purchase the property.

The City was supportive, and they knew that the denial from the Port was a setback. They also knew that we would be willing to work with them on future ideas or plans. It was in the best interest of both parties to procure property close to town. The County made a formal offer matching the Cities, and the track owners accepted. That's the story. That's the truth.

We decided to purchase the surrounding lots for a few reasons.

  1. For any future development, the property would provide a buffer between any new residences and a jail.
  2. It is close to the current location, and we wanted to keep everything close to continue contributing to Ephrata's local economy.
  3. The current Courthouse is in a flood zone. Although we have no plans on moving any other part of the campus to that location (other than the Sheriff and the Jail), if there were some catastrophic event in the future, or if forced by growth, we would have a place to move offices if required. We wouldn't be burdened with the entire site selection process or need to worry about finding land in a County that is expected to grow more than most over the next 20 plus years.
  4. We have offered to sell land to the City if they ever decide to move City Hall out of the flood zone. That is entirely up to the City, and we don't know their plans. But they no longer need to perform that search if they wish not to. If they ever decide to move like that, they have a place they can go, and we appreciate the relationship we have together.

None of our actions have been in the dark or kept from anyone. The City has been well aware of our process from the beginning as much of it involves processes where they will be involved.

This blog is again intended to keep the information flow going to the citizens of the County. We want to have a project that benefits the County, adds to the safety of the residents and officers, and adequately addresses the needs of the County. This project will have a significant impact on the County. We hope that the residents will subscribe to this blog to keep up to date with the goings-on and, of course, call and ask questions. Don't let rumors set your opinion. If you hear something that doesn't seem right, send an email or call, ask the question.