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Maintenance concerns continue at Juvenile Justice Center

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. -

Work has begun on the Juvenile Justice Center’s chiller.

This comes after an emergency was declared by commissioners last week.

The maintenance issues caused a rift, when days after the emergency was declared, the county building engineer said it was unnecessary.

Probate Judge James Fox however, says problems with the chiller are unsafe.

He says it has caused extreme and dangerous temperature changes in the JJC building.

“The clerk’s office worked in coats for maybe two or three weeks,” Fox said of January.

Monday, it was the opposite situation. Temperatures in the building reached over 80 degrees.

County Commissioner Andrew Kosteilney allowed Bradley Company to begin work on the chiller Monday.

At the time, JJC Executive Director Cynthia Nelson was considering transporting residents to another county, which would have cost thousands.

“They can’t get away. You’ve got people in a locked unit. They can’t walk out, they can’t even go stand in front of a fan,” Nelson said of the underage residents.

Fox and Nelson say the chiller has been a mess for years, which is why commissioners originally handed maintenance over to the county.

However, JJC employees says due to lack of action and communication on the county’s behalf have made maintenance issues far worse.

“Nobody’s made any effort to tell me what’s going on. I’m just continuously told, we understand, thanks for your patience, it’s going to get better. It just has not gotten better,” Fox said.

County Building Manager Bob Hedle says he thinks these communication issues are resolved.

He says he is open to working with Bradley Company to find a solution.

Commissioners Kosteilney and Deb Fleming attribute some of the problems to growing pains, as the county only took over maintenance in August.

Both commissioners say they hope to find a solution to any issues.

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