Sheriff's office plagued by facility woes

Mohave County Board of Supervisors Chairman Pete Byers definitely has an attitude about building new quarters for the Mohave County Sheriff's Office.

"It is time to get something built," Byers said.

"We have studied and looked at enough sites.

It is time to take action."

Byers said county fire districts and law enforcement are at risk with a 911-dispatch center where operations may be interrupted at any time.

"If the power goes out, they work in the dark," he said.

The room has no central heat, no central air conditioning, and a mainframe computer at risk in a room that cannot maintain a proper environment.

The back-up generator blows electrical connections when it starts up, said Chief Deputy Jim McCabe.

When a person whose house catches fire calls 911, the call comes through the dispatch center.

The call then is relayed to the proper fire station.

Residents are told to call 911 because a call to the fire station delays dispatch, said chief dispatcher Kay Claborn.

Crime-related calls to 911, are also made to the center housed in at-risk facilities, Byers said.

The 911 dispatchers are keeping the center open 24 hours a day seven days a week.

McCabe said the employees work in a small, closed room without windows.

If they run the electrical space heaters too much, they lose power.

In summer, the air conditioners are window units that also can blow the fuses.

Employees stay close to the phones on breaks and use a combination kitchen, bathroom and locker storage area in one small room.

The dispatchers do have one thing other employees in the building are without: A source of hot water.

McCabe said the back-up generators are checked every Friday.

They usually work, unlike the electrical connection to the 911 dispatch equipment.

Claborn sad electrical storms in the area have shut down power.

Mohave County Sheriff Tom Sheahan said Kingman Building Official George Lutz condemned the second floor and the basement in 1993.

The county continues to use the first floor of the old hospital building.

"The health department moved out a few years ago and we were notable to use that part of the first floor," Sheahan said.

Mohave County jail inmates were cleaning pigeon droppings from the second floor Thursday.

They wore protective face masks.

McCabe said employees were entering the building through yellow residue that resulted from a leaky roof letting water into the building.

The water filtered through the pigeon droppings to the first floor entry.

Byers said 18 inches of sewage put out the gas furnace in the basement when the lines backed up.

"I am concerned about the health risk to Mohave County employees that work in these conditions," McCabe said.

"A school facility in Tucson was shut down recently with 'unsafe building syndrome' because of the health risk."

Byers said the building is full of asbestos, another health hazard.

Sheahan said the former armory on West Beale Street near Interstate 40 has always been his first choice of location for a new facility.

Access to the freeway and a clear area to land the helicopter are two reasons, he has said.

The county owns the armory site, which is now the Mohave County Jail Annex.

Interim County Manager Dick Skalicky said enough money has been collected from the building sales tax to build the sheriff's building without being slowed by bond sales.

Sharon Schmitz, a private project manager hired to study sites for the Mohave County Government Center, said a facility could be completed is as few as 18 months - but 24 months is more likely, Schmitz said.

"I tend to estimate the longer timeline, knowing how long it takes to get a decision in Mohave County," she said during a recent presentation to the Kingman City Council.

Byers has placed the consideration of the sheriff's building on the agenda for the 9:30 a.m.

Monday Jan.

22 meeting of the Mohave County Board of Supervisors at 809 Beale St.