NOWATA, Okla. — The Nowata County Sheriff’s Office says there is work underway at the jail amid its closure that set into motion a chain of controversy.
Interim sheriff Mirta Hallett says the kitchen area, pantry, dishwasher and the north cell (general population) currently are undergoing renovations. She says there is not an estimated time for repairs to be completed.
2 Works For You has requested a copy of the minutes from the latest county commissioners meeting to see what type of jail work was discussed by commissioners. The Nowata County Clerk told us our open records request would be fulfilled "by the end of next week."
The jail was evacuated last month after high levels of carbon monoxide reportedly made inmates and staff sick. Inmates were sent to the Washington County Jail to be housed.
Afterward, the then-sheriff Terry Sue Barnett said a judge was ordering her to take inmates back to Nowata County, even though Barnett had a long list of things that made the jail unsafe for any occupants. Some of her claims were: No fire alarm system, the CO2 issue had not been resolved, electrical wiring exposed in showers, mold present in the facility and methane permeating through sewer lines.
Barnett resigned her position and refused to reopen the facility like the judge ordered, because she said none of the issues had been addressed and "the condition of the jail is such that it does not comply with constitutional standards," she wrote in her resignation letter.
The county commissioners appointed Hallett as the interim sheriff on March 20.
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