SOUTH PARIS — Oxford County commissioners Wednesday received matching offers from two jails to board prisoners.

Sheriff Wayne Gallant and county Administrator Scott Cole told commissioners an agreement has been reached with Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset.

“The sheriff and (jail administrator) Capt. Ed Quinn and I went to Wiscasset last week, and we attended their (board) meeting,” Cole said. “They had an executive session, came out and they voted to authorize their subcommittee to work with us and we came up with a deal.”

Two Bridges said its facility will provide fixed-rate boarding for $600,000 from Sept. 1, (2016), to Aug. 31, 2017. The estimated number of inmates would be 25, but the number could vary at the same cost, and there would be no per diem charges.

After commissioners voted to further explore the proposal, Cumberland County Jail administrators sent a message Wednesday to “clarify their position,” Cole said.

The message had almost identical terms as those discussed with the Wiscasset jail: $600,000, fixed, for one year with no per diem charges. The only difference was  the year would start retroactively on July 1, 2016, and end June 30, 2017.

Cumberland County officials in Portland notified Oxford County earlier this year that they would more than double the cost for boarding inmates, from $50 per day to $108 per day, starting July 1.

That notice sent Oxford County’s administration scrambling to find a less expensive alternative.

“They’re asking for something we don’t have,” Gallant said recently about the rate increase by Cumberland County.

Maine counties are struggling to cover the cost of boarding jail inmates because of the Legislature’s decision to cap tax revenues to fund this expense.

The Cumberland County message arrived so late in the day that Cole was not able to notify the commissioners in time for their meeting. He said it will be on the agenda for the Aug. 16 meeting.

Because commission Chairman David Duguay was absent from the meeting Wednesday, Cole said Commissioners Tim Turner and Steve Merrill’s approval of the Two Bridges Regional Jail proposal would await Duguay’s input before final approval.

Gallant and his staff, Cole and Turner have actively worked the myriad developments in the inmate boarding issue for over a year.

Another strategy is for the Maine Department of Corrections to upgrade the licensing status of the Oxford County Jail to a full-time facility, instead of a temporary holding jail. The county is awaiting a report from the Department of Corrections following its recent visit to the Paris jail.

In other business, the county’s consulting attorney, Bryan Dench, of Skelton, Taintor and Abbott in Auburn, briefed commissioners on a $181,000 grant from the Federal Aviation Administration to renew the master plan for the county airport in Oxford.

Merrill and Turner voted to accept the offer.

“We’re studying the terrain for placement of additional (airport) fencing,” Cole said. “We’re going to look at the layout of the airport, and what’s the best orientation for installing a motorized vehicle gate. We’re going to evaluate the building for future use, and for repairs that might be needed. One part of the master plan is checking current conditions at the airport against FAA standards. Typically from time to time, bulletins come out for safety upgrades, new standards, so we’ll check our current layout and see if we need anything done there. I don’t believe we do. I think we’re OK for the safety upgrades. The first money goes to safety upgrades, systemwide.”

Also, Assistant District Attorney Richard Beauchesne introduced Mariah Castonguay, who was recently selected as a legal secretary and paralegal.

Merrill and Turner approved her hiring. 

Castonguay will succeed Rosemary Reese, who retired after working in the office for 36 years.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: