An update on the renovation and completion of the old Phelps County Jail built in 1972 was disclosed at the Phelps County Commission’s final outreach meeting at Edgar Springs City Hall May 8.

The renovation was unanimously voted on in January of this year by the Phelps County Commission and Phelps County Sheriff, Richard Lisenbe, to ease overcrowding.

The remodeled jail will be state of the art, and will cost $2.2 million stated, District 2 Commissioner for Phelps County, Gary Hicks.

“The beauty of it is there is no type of taxpayer dollars involved,” said Hicks.

Instead, Hicks stated that the renovation is financed through the asset forfeiture, money that is garnered from drug interdictions mostly on interstates. Under federal law, no conviction is needed when seizing assets in Missouri.

“It’s a good project, and we are looking forward to it being ready for occupation in mid-November,” said Hicks, adding that the remodeled jail will require about eight jailers, adding more jobs to the area.

To elaborate on the necessity of the renovation, Presiding Commissioner Randy Verkamp stated that a lot of offenders entering into the Phelps County Jail don’t meet the standard the jail was built for due to the surge of low-level charges related to the steady trend of drugs in the area.

The renovated jail will house the low-level, less violent offenders, and the current jail will be used to house higher-level, violent prisoners that the jail was intended for.

“It’s working out quite well, and you have to really credit Sheriff Lisenbe for the job he has done,” stated Verkamp.

By Lori Amos | Rolla Daily News