Commissioners Address Jail Concerns

Commissioners Address Jail Concerns

The following topic will be considered at the Wayne County Commissioners’ weekly session on Wednesday, January 19, 2022, at 2 p.m. in the meeting room on the second floor of the Administration Building. A link to register to view the meeting virtually is available HERE.

Documents available for download:

Strollo Analysis

Administrator Recommendation

Invitation to Jan. 25 Meeting


Wayne County Commissioners address jail location concerns

WAYNE COUNTY, OH, Jan. 14, 2022 — During a recent public meeting about the jail renovation project, Wooster City officials and Main Street Wooster representatives expressed concern about the current location of the jail and Sheriff’s Office located at 201 W. North St., Wooster.

As this was not the first time this concern was voiced, the Wayne County Commissioners sought an analysis of the financial and other factors involved in such a move.

They enlisted Youngstown-based Strollo Architects, LLC. to develop comparable estimates for renovating and expanding the current site and building an equivalent jail at a new location outside City of Wooster boundaries.

The comparison assumes the same inmate numbers, style, and retention needs identified in the proposed 248-bed model the county submitted a grant application for jail construction funding provided in current State of Ohio capital improvement appropriations, enacted in December of 2020.

That grant request was based on:

  • 214 licensed beds, including 48 high-security isolation cells
  • 34 medical isolation cells

According to the architect, the construction cost for renovating the current jail and expanding it with 27,000 square feet of new construction is estimated at $30.2 million. Building a new facility on a remote site is estimated to cost $47 million.

This is $16.8 million more than remaining at the current site on the edge of downtown, a 55% higher cost.

There are additional operational considerations beyond the cost of construction to consider. These factors were developed in cooperation with the Sheriff’s Office and outlined in a letter presented by County Administrator Patrick Herron in the Commissioner’s voting session on January 12.

Transport factors: Transportation costs are a significant consideration, should the jail be remote to downtown courts and other services. In 2020, there were 241 inmate transports to Municipal Court, and 399 inmate transports to Common Pleas Court, according to the Sheriff’s Office. This lower number is used as the baseline because it is anticipated that there will be continued use of video appearances when possible as procedures changed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The jail is connected to the municipal court building, so these transports occur indoors in a secure environment. While some have suggested all visits should be virtual, a person still has a right to appear at their trial. While in-person court appearances have been significantly reduced, they cannot be eliminated.

A remote jail would introduce a vehicle and two deputies for transport, impacting costs and the availability of city and village law enforcement resources. These resources would be tied up during transport to court, waiting for the court proceeding, and returning to jail. Currently, municipal court movements within the justice center are provided by the Sheriff’s Office.

Safety risks are heightened during vehicular transports. Examples of added risks include:

  • Vehicular accidents that could lead to escape
  • Public interaction that could lead to escape
  • Acquiring a weapon or other contraband

Other factors: Many rehabilitation services are provided within the jail, and geography is a factor, along with the relative efficiencies of accessing them upon release, depending on jail location.

The analysis points out the public safety value of having a law enforcement station in the downtown area with associated cruiser traffic. It also points out the county jail has been located somewhere in the downtown area of the county seat since the early 1800s. Further, the former jail has been renovated and operates as a restaurant across the street from the justice center. Upscale residential construction is being built on speculation across the street.

There is also a significant possibility that efforts to identify another site for the jail would generate opposition from residents in the new area, as recently was experienced when development was proposed near the current Wooster City Schools high school.

Commissioners are actively reviewing this analysis to decide how design and financing plans can move forward. They have the duty of providing facilities for county government services.

Wayne County Justice Center

WCTID discusses project timelines

WCTID discusses project timelines

WAYNE COUNTY, OH, Sep. 2020 — On the heels of accepting a nearly $150,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) for two area road projects, the Wayne County Transportation Improvement District (WCTID) devoted a portion of their monthly meeting held on Monday, August 31, to discussions about the stages and estimated timeline of each project.

According to Wayne County engineer Scott Miller, the award for the Apple Creek Road project will save taxpayer money by covering 25% of the cost of the county’s portion of the estimated $257,000 project. The plan calls for a center turn lane to be added on Apple Creek Road to improve traffic safety at the future site of a BellStore at 1046 N. Apple Creek Road.

According to TID Chairman Becky Foster, the WCTID will hold the grant money in escrow until the project is complete before releasing it to the county.

The project stems from a “trips” study conducted by the Wayne County Engineers Office. The analysis, using national averages, is used to determine the amount of traffic flowing in and out of the business to establish peak periods of the day.

Miller said that safety is the number one priority, and the project will consist of a center lane to be installed as a countermeasure to ensure the safety of store patrons entering and exiting the BellStore.

Miller hopes that construction on the road can begin later this year.

In addition to the Apple Creek Road project, $90,000 was awarded for a turn-lanes project on West Milltown Road.

According to Wooster City engineer Roger Kobilarcsik, adding turn lanes to West Milltown Road stems from a 2017 traffic study conducted by the supermarket company, Meijer Inc., to determine traffic-control needs of the area. At the time, Meijer was considering adding a superstore nearby and was seeking a zoning amendment from city council for 32 acres of land along Milltown from C-2 to C-5 commercial.

Because funding has been secured, City of Wooster Director of Administration Joel Montgomery said the project to add lanes turning into Buehler’s and the adjacent road behind Bob Evans could move into the planning stage and will start early next year.

Funding for the Milltown Rd. will also be held in escrow by the WCTID and disbursed upon completion.


By Dan Starcher, public communications specialist for the Wayne County government.

$1.4 million in ODOT grants fund public transit expansion

$1.4 million in ODOT grants fund public transit expansion

WAYNE COUNTY, OH, Sep. 2020 — Grants totaling more than $1.4 million from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) will pave the way for expanded public transit service in Wayne County representatives of the Stark Area Regional Transit Authority (SARTA), Community Action of Wayne and Medina Counties (CAWM), and the Wayne County commissioners announced today.

According to Wayne County Commissioner Ron Amstutz, the ODOT grants will fund a pilot program that will extend ride-sharing and other transit services to residents living outside the city of Wooster beginning early next year. The area’s private transportation providers will have the opportunity to submit proposals to provide the service. SARTA and CAWM will administer and coordinate the program.

Melissa Pearce, CAWM President and CEO, said the grant-funded project represents the next logical step in the drive to bring expanded transportation service to Wayne County.

“The City of Wooster’s robust investment in transportation and the launch of Rural Mobility Solutions, our workplace access pilot, established a strong foundation for growth,” Pearce said. “The combination of the city’s commitment to enhanced mobility, SARTA’s experience, and resources, and the ODOT dollars will keep us moving in the right direction.”

SARTA CEO Kirt Conrad said the award-winning and the nationally-respected transit system is excited about being part of the innovative project.

“We know that residents of rural areas want, need and deserve safe, affordable, and reliable mobility services,” he said. “We look forward to using our expertise to help develop the pilot program, coordinate scheduling, and routing, and ensure that the community gets the biggest bang possible for ODOT’s dollars.”

Amstutz hopes the pilot project will serve as a model for other rural areas in the state.

“Across Ohio, the lack of mobility is a barrier to self-sufficiency and economic growth,” he said. “We believe programs like the one we envision have the potential to break down those barriers and improve the quality of life for thousands of people.”

The pilot project will be designed to meet transportation needs identified via a survey of residents conducted earlier this year. It will target residents who need rides to work, medical appointments, or local courts.

Discussions are now underway to determine and develop a scope of services and fare structures. When that process is complete, SARTA and CAWM will begin accepting proposals from private transportation providers.

Performance metrics that will be used to evaluate the program are now in development. The length of time needed to implement the pilot fully and the final scope of services will be determined by several factors, including the availability of funding from federal, state, and local sources and the ability of private transportation providers to meet identified needs.


By Dan Starcher, public communications specialist for the Wayne County government.

Grant Will Defray Cost of Elyria Road Project

Grant Will Defray Cost of Elyria Road Project

WAYNE COUNTY, OH, Aug. 2019 — A grant from the Ohio Public Works Commission (OPWC) will help fund a project to resurface a 3.2-mile portion of County Road 149 (Elyria Road) between Blachleyville and S. Columbus Roads. Wayne County Engineer Scott Miller said that a start date will be determined soon.

In July 2019, it was announced that Wayne County was awarded the OPWC grant for 20 percent of the cost of the project in addition to a 12-year, zero percent interest loan according to Kristi Burkholder of the Wayne County Commissioners office. Miller applied for the funding through a long-standing state program that supports local government infrastructure projects that are awarded by a multi-county objective scoring process.

Kokosing Construction Company, Inc., a family-owned construction company based in Westerville, Ohio, submitted the lowest and best bid to complete the project by October 11, 2019, at a cost not to exceed $793,158.20. According to Ryan Marthey of the Wayne County Engineer’s Office, Elyria Road will remain open during the construction phase and traffic will be controlled by flaggers.

By Dan Starcher, public communications specialist for the Wayne County government.