PDT Staff Writer
State Rep. Terry Johnson said in an exclusive interview with the Daily Times he is working to organize a regional meeting of county officials to find a use for the former Ohio River Valley Juvenile Correctional Facility located at 4696 Gallia Pike, Franklin Furnace.
“The state has shopped it (the building) around and nothing much has happened. What I’m trying to do is, look at the possibility of using it for a purpose that was close to what it was originally used for,” Johnson said. “I’ve talked with (Department of Rehabilitation and Correction) Director (Gary) Mohr and he has agreed to have a meeting. We’d like to have all of the county sheriffs, commissioners and possibly other state representatives or state senators from Adams, Pike, Lawrence and Scioto Counties attend.”
Johnson said at this meeting, he would hope to brainstorm for potential uses of the building.
“We definitely have the need, the question is if we can make it happen. What I would like to do is provide a leadership role in putting a meeting together and putting the right people in the right place to see if we can come up with a solution,” Johnson said.
He said the meeting has not been scheduled, but his office is working with the county officials to find a date that works best for everyone.
When asked if the state would be open to this possibility of the facility being reopened, Johnson said, “the state is definitely open. They would like to find a use for it. The question is what can we afford to do. We would like to find a potential use and a way to make that happen.”
Late last month, the Scioto County Commissioners showed an interest in owning the facility to establish a regional jail. Commissioner Doug Coleman said the county needed to jump on the opportunity.
The idea first came about when Lawrence County was told they need to establish a new jail due to the condition of their current facility. One of the options Lawrence County is considering is asking the state to reopen a portion of the Juvenile Detention Center so they can use it for a jail.
Lawrence County currently leases 10 beds within the Scioto County Jail, but Scioto County Sheriff Marty V. Donini said the Scioto County Jail’s ability to help meet Lawrence County’s needs is limited.
“We’ve discussed that with the commissioners,” Donini said. “At the moment, we were thinking about helping Lawrence County out because there was a possibility that they might have to close their jail about a month or two ago, when they were going through all those financial issues. The Sheriff up there asked me if we would be able to take all of his inmates, about 30 or 40, and the answer is no, not at the present moment.”
Donini said the county was looking to contact Ohio Governor John Kasich to come up with an agreement to use part of the facility which had been closed by the State on Sept. 10, 2011.
Donini did say the Scioto County Jail has population issues that seem to increase in the summer.
At the time the Franklin Furnace facility closed, it employed 333 people.
In March of 2012 the Ohio Department of Youth Services rejected the only two bids they had received for the facility. The highest bid was $284,000 offered by MGNR Properties of North Ridgeville, Ohio. The other bid was $117,558, made by National Scrap Corporation of South Bloomfield, Ohio.
The property has been appraised by the Scioto County Auditor’s Office at $11,520,550. The 36 acres of land — not considering the structures — is valued at $846,230, well above the highest bid.
Charmon Shepherd of the ODYS said at the time, “the two directors of the Department of Youth Services and the Department of Administrative Services, the real estate office, have rejected those bids. By statute they can do that.”
Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Wayne on Twitter @WayneallenPDT.