KINGWOOD — Preston County’s historic jail building, currently home to The Preston County Sheriff’s Office, has a number of maintenance issues.
Among them, a leaking roof, mold in an upstairs bathroom, foul smells in multiple parts of the building, hanging wires that may or may not be useful, and water destruction in the sheriff’s office and the basement gym area.
“We have issues over here. And we’ve had issues year after year after year and throwing a fan and an extension cord at a smell to temporarily fix it isn’t the fix,” Sheriff Paul “Moe” Pritt said. “Because the smell is gonna keep coming. And it has.”
Pritt said he isn’t asking for a new building because he likes the historic value of being where they are. While in a dream world Pritt would like the building restored with as much historic value as possible — while still accommodating the department’s daily functions — he knows that isn’t realistic.
“I’m not looking for a $2 million updated facility. I know that’s not feasible. I know it’s not gonna happen. We all know it’s not gonna happen here. But you need to, somebody needs to come up with a game plan and start the overall picture,” Pritt said.
“Quit halfway doing stuff. If that became useless, and we didn’t need it, it should have been pulled. It should have been out of here,” he said pointing at exposed wiring in the section of the building where inmates are processed — the front of the area with jail cells.
Another problem in the jail area is the aforementioned septic or sewage smell that was being “treated” with a fan.
In the basement’s weightlifting area, water runs into the building and a septic or sewage smell sometimes accompanies it, Pritt said. On the floor, there was a rust ring around a weight plate.
A drain outside a window in the basement’s laundry room is clogged, which regularly leaves up to 2 feet of water pressed against the window. The relatively new window is cracked around the frame and clearly water damaged.
A bathroom on the building’s top level has mold and cracks where the building has settled. In the office outside the bathroom, there are large cracks in the plaster. The Dominion Post was also shown issues with the garage, the department’s extension building, and gutter system which leads to ice building up right outside of a door to the building.
Commission President Don Smith said the commission is aware of the issues but things take time and they’re waiting to find out exactly what all is wrong.
“It’s a matter right now, I know, one thing that we were waiting on was, we’re supposed to have an architect or engineer come to look at the roof. That was one of the things,” Smith said. “So I’m not sure where that is at the moment. That has to be taken care of first to see what needs done.”
Once they know what needs to happen, the commission will have to go out and find the money for it, Smith said.
“It takes time in government. It’s like I said, we’re waiting for somebody,” Smith said. “And also, right now, it’s hard to get stuff. So even if, say, tomorrow, the engineer came back and said, ‘oh, this is what you need,’ we could order a roof and it’d be six months before we get the thing.”
He said roof and foundation issues are the two biggest problems a building can have and said ignoring them can turn into a much bigger and more expensive problem.
“So yes, we are aware of it, and we want to fix it,” Smith said.