Emergency declared at JJC, urgent maintenance required

NOW: Emergency declared at JJC, urgent maintenance required


An emergency was declared Tuesday at the St. Joseph County Juvenile Justice Center.

The legal move allows for urgent maintenance repairs for the safety of the building.

Recently, the JJC building was inspected by Bradley Company.

Several deferred maintenance issues were found, most stemming from an old water cooling system.

The system has been drained, leaving behind mysterious chemicals.

 “Simple things, simple errors can have great consequences,” Probate Judge James Fox said.

Fox isn’t sure what the consequences might be, but he doesn’t want to wait to find out.

Tuesday, the judge presented the problem to the county commissioners, asking for an emergency declaration, to expedite the bidding process for repairs and chemical disposal.

“We have a building that houses juveniles, and we wanted to make sure that’s disposed of properly and wasn’t going to leak out into the building,” Fox said.

No one’s really sure what these chemicals are.

They found were drained from the old water cooling system, and are sitting in the basement.

The water system itself may need an upgrade, and outside help is required to address tricky electrical problems.

“You don’t see it. Sometimes one step makes a difference between life and death, because there are fluids disposed of, and an open circuit,” Fox said.

That was enough to convince the commissioners to unanimously declare an emergency at the JJC, so the repairs can get done ASAP, for the safety of the employees and children in the building.

“We’re the only court that has tenants, and those tenants are entitled to having those things done right,” Fox said.

An exact time line is not set yet for repairs.

“The families we deal with come to us in a time of crisis. We want to make sure we don’t add to that crisis,” Fox said.

The JJC is now in the process of taking bids, but because of the emergency declaration, they only have to take two bids.

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