OLYMPIA - Thurston County Commissioners and Thurston County Sheriff John Snaza have reached agreement on several issues regarding the county's new jail facility. The Sheriff and Commissioners finalized the agreement by signing a "Letter of Intent" at a news conference today. The agreement allows the new Accountability and Restitution Center (ARC) to open, possibly by this summer. -30-
Thurston County Commission Chair Cathy Wolfe says the entire county will benefit from the agreement. "There was a lot of give and take in the discussions, but in the end, I think we all come out winners. This allows us to open a brand new corrections facility and remove corrections officers and inmates from a worn-out courthouse jail that was built more than three-and-a-half decades ago."
Sheriff Snaza says the signing of the Letter of Intent gives some assurances on both sides that that adequate steps will be taken to afford the ARC opening. "This is a big step forward and a fulfillment of a commitment to county taxpayers, corrections officers and all of county government. The intent is that we will all work together on this. And if we have concerns, we will get together and work things out."
County Commissioner Bud Blake says he is pleased with the outcome of the recent negotiations. "I'm very proud of everyone involved. They rolled up their sleeves, stayed focused and resolved the true issues."
The ARC is a new state of the art corrections facility that was completed in 2010, but the need for staffing changes and budget shortfalls have kept the new facility empty until now. Commissioner Sandra Romero says the Corrections Union stepped up by agreeing to the shift changes. "This agreement between the Sheriff and Commissioners was made possible after corrections officers approved a new contract in late 2014 including a move to 12-hour shifts in order to adequately staff the new facility. We really appreciate their flexibility."
Thurston County facilities staff and corrections officials will now work through a "punch list" of issues that must be taken care of before full occupancy of the ARC can be accomplished. No exact date for move-in will be given due to security issues for inmates and staff.