Sheriff's office to host loan payment celebration
Sheriff’s office to host loan payment celebration
By Mike Van Sickle
It’s been 11 years since the cell doors first opened on the Fayette County Law Enforcement Center (LEC) near West Union. While submitting a $354,890 payment in May 2013, Fayette County paid off its $4.4 million loan for the local law enforcement center.
To celebrate the final loan payment, the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office will host an open house (see sidebar) at the facility on Saturday, Nov. 2.
“I can’t thank all of the local officials, business owners, and residents enough who put in so much time and effort to get this facility constructed in the first place,” said Sheriff Marty Fisher.
“A great number of people provided their input for many years and in some cases, decades, while either personally serving on committees or providing ideas during the countless meetings,” he added.
While reminiscing, Sheriff Fisher noted that the late Fayette County Sheriff Norm McCauley and the then Fayette County Supervisors actually began exploring the construction of a new jailhouse in 1979.
State and county officials were joined by a long list of area citizens in holding various discussions and meetings on the subject for over two decades. It wouldn’t be until the spring of 2001 before the Supervisors approved the LEC project.
During that time span, the old jail even failed inspection and was actually closed from 1980 to 1986. At that time, Sheriff Stan Koch was granted permission from the state to hold prisoners overnight in the original facility.
Fisher, who first served with the Sheriff’s Office in 1989, recalled that the longest discussions for construction of a new law enforcement center revolved around the location and number of beds for the facility.
Of the dozen sites considered by the final jail committee, Fisher continues to believe the current location was the best choice.
“A main objective of mine was to build on a site that had room for expansion. This location also provides deputies quick access to a main highway and is not in a densely populated area,” explained Fisher, who has served as sheriff since 2001.
“I not only wanted to build for the present needs of the time, but for the future,” he continued. “I didn’t feel we could put ourselves in a position to be landlocked. We had to make sure and cover all our bases at one time. I had hoped that developing plans for the future would be beneficial in the long run, and it has.
“We shared ideas back and forth with the architect in hopes of designing a facility that the inner operations could flow easily, and I can’t see how we could have come up with anything that runs any smoother than this one does on a daily basis,” Fisher added.
He noted that the former Fayette County Jail was a 10-bed facility, which could house 16 prisoners on a daily basis. Studies projected that the county would require housing for 27 to 28 prisoners on a daily basis within the first years after the construction of the new building.
“I immediately made a commitment to fill the new 44-bed facility with state and federal prisoners,” said Fisher, while recently reporting that the current inmate count includes 27 state and 15 federal prisoners.
At the same time, the former West Union police chief acknowledged that the housing of federal prisoners has decreased over the past 18 months due to the utilization by authorities of a facility in Missouri.
Fisher estimated that the local law enforcement center currently averages 15 federal and 30 state prisoners daily. While charges have varied from misdemeanors to first-degree murder, federal prisoners are largely held on sexual assault, drug- and/or gun-related charges. Meanwhile, local arrests mainly involve sexual/domestic abuse, drug and/or alcohol abuse.
In addition to Sheriff Fisher, the full-time staff includes Chief Deputy James Davis, Sgt. Al Hendershott, Sgt. Kenny Aeschliman, deputies Joe Miller, Mike Foland, Shad Roys, Mike Everding, Chris Schveiger, and Ben McCready;
Command Sgt. Major/Jail Administrator Thyron Matthews, Assistant Jail Administrator Sgt. Hilery Chensvold, detention officers Andy Ciszewski, Nick Assman, Barbara Paul, Jeremy Stiefel, Kristina Thyer, Misty Mann, Kathy Streif, Tyler Bazyn, Erin Richards, Eric Anderson, Zachary Contreras, Andrew Ciszewski;
Dispatchers Kelly Fink, Lucas Cavanaugh, Kristi Miller, Hannah Schultz, Amy Beermann, Mitch Trenkamp; civil office employees Roxane Brugman, Susan Wolfs, Lisa Eberhart, Katrina Schmitt; kitchen staff members Traci Schmitt and Mary Shippy, and maintenance employee Kevin Hirsch.
“We do hold the worst of the worst here, including an increasing number of what you could call gangsters. Individuals are held anywhere from one day to, in the case of one prisoner due to trial delays, 500 days,” said Fisher.
While praising his entire staff, Fisher noted that the state-of-the-art equipment and other tools utilized at the LEC are not only regularly used by the local law enforcement, but also by other agencies to solve crimes. In addition to motion-sensor cameras, advanced fingerprinting, photography, and communication devices/procedures help solve crimes and hold inmates accountable for their actions.
“In a county jail, it’s a rotating door. It’s not an easy task for a staff to manage, but the people here excel at getting it done and getting it done correctly,” Fisher added. “The people of Fayette County can be proud of this facility and the people who serve in it.”