The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

April 7, 2014

Damage to detention center archway recently discovered

ENID, Okla. — Damage to Garfield County Detention Facility was discovered last week, Garfield County commissioners learned during a meeting Monday morning.

The damage was discovered on a concrete-and-brick archway at the entrance to the jail, located at 1020 S. 10th, Garfield County Sheriff Jerry Niles said.

While Niles said the cause of the damage is unknown, there was some discussion during the meeting about the possibility of recent earthquakes causing the crack in the archway.

“Our clay soil does a lot of shifting, anyway,” District 1 Commissioner Marc Bolz said, after questioning the discussion about earthquakes causing the damage.

Niles said the damage occurred in the past three to four weeks.

“I’m not saying that it’s caused by the earth moving, but it’s still damage. And the thing about it is, we’re concerned about the structural integrity,” Niles said.

Following the meeting, Niles noted the structure is free-standing and the damage could be weather-related or caused by shifting soil.

“With the amount of moisture we received in the wintertime, we don’t know if there was a small crack and moisture got in there and froze between the snows and everything else we’ve had this winter,” Niles said. “Moisture staying up there and freezing it could have expanded it also.”

Niles said the county’s insurance company has been notified of the damage.

“We did do an inspection of the rest of the facility, and there’s no problems there,” Niles said.

The commissioners questioned whether the area should be roped off.

Niles said he thought a structural engineer should look at the damage and make a determination on blocking off the damage.

“The thing about it is, that’s our only entrance for the public,” Niles said. “It’s something we can’t really delay.”

The crack is “relatively small,” Niles said, explaining it runs down through 4 or 5 feet of the archway’s side section.

In other business, the commissioners voted to take action on a lawsuit filed by former Garfield County Sheriff’s Office employee Randy Coleman.

The commissioners discussed the lawsuit — in which Coleman claims he was wrongfully terminated — in executive session. Executive sessions are not open to the public and may be used to allow communication between a pubic body and its attorney related to a pending investigation, claim or action that could be justified if discussed publicly.

Upon return to the open meeting, commissioners approved a motion to follow their attorney’s recommendation to produce an offer to Coleman.

District 3 Commissioner James Simunek said further information about an offer was not provided to the commissioners.

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