FARMINGTON – A new convection oven to replace a failed one in the jail kitchen is estimated to cost between $8,000 and $10,000, assistant jail Administrator Carl Stinchfield told county commissioners Tuesday.

Stinchfield said the 24-year-old convection oven’s failure leaves the kitchen with a single stove with burners on top and a warming oven. The stove has been used for 24 years.

“Our cooking operations have been significantly affected,” Stinchfield said, when changing from a convection oven to a regular stove.

Money to replace the failed oven that has a griddle top is not in the budget but there is $9,000 in the equipment account budgeted for installation of air conditioning that could be used. Prices for the cooling unit came in over budget and the project is not being considered this year.

The remaining oven does not cook quantities of food such as multiple pans of brownies well, since the air does not circulate properly, Stinchfield said.

Cooks have been altering menus to make up for the loss of the stove.

The jail is required to serve one hot meal a day to inmates, Administrator Sandra Collins said.

Stinchfield said he spoke with a supplier to see what the costs to replace the electrical unit would be and if a conversion to a propane gas stove would be more cost-efficient.

The price to replace the electrical stove is $8,026, Stinchfield said, and the price of a gas stove is between $6,000 and $7,000 plus about $2,500 to convert to gas.

The conversion cost doesn’t include a cost for the stove hood duct work if it needs to be upgraded to National Fire Protection Association codes because of open-flame cooking.

Stinchfield said he was told there would be significant savings if the county converted to a gas stove in the long term.

despite an increase in propane costs but hasn’t done the research himself.

An additional feature of a gas stove would be that the jail would be self-sufficient to feed inmates if there was a long-term power outage, Stinchfield said. The back-up generator doesn’t support the high demands of the electrical cooking units in the kitchen.

In general, the jail staff serves 90 meals a day for inmates and employees.

County Commissioner Fred Hardy of New Sharon said he imagined if the county started putting in propane tanks, there would need to be protection for the tanks.

“I was told by the supplier the tanks were very safe,” Stinchfield said. “They could take a bullet and they wouldn’t explode.”

The danger is if there is a leak and it gets to a certain build-up point that it could explode, he said.

Commissioners directed Stinchfield to do more research on cost savings comparison of the two fuels and to get more bids on a replacement oven and present his findings at the next meeting.

In other business, commissioners rejected Sheriff Dennis Pike’s idea to keep money for an International Model S-120 panel truck sold for $4,100 on e-Bay and two other vehicles, 1987 Chevrolet Blazer with a diesel engine and a four-wheel drive 1976 Dodge pickup, in a separate account to buy another truck in better shape.

Minus $189 and change for expenses for the auction, the vehicle brought in $3,919.80, Pike said. That money will go into the county’s general fund as will the money from the other two vehicles when sold.

If Pike wants another vehicle for use, commissioners said, he should go through the budget process next year.

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