The final report of the 2018 Greene County Grand Jury showed a 98% indictment rate plus a significant number of issues with buildings in the Greene County government system.
During their term, the Grand Jury issued 82 indictments out of 83 presented cases, returning a “no true bill” in the 83rd case. Indictments included 19 murder indictments and 14 cases of crimes against children.
In addition to the issued indictments, the Grand Jury took a very critical look at county facilities, issuing statements of concern in multiple parts of the county’s structure.
The Grand Jury had “serious” concerns about the county’s rental of office space in the Cox Medical Tower. The Grand Jury noted that the facility does not have a consistent security presence because Cox Health only provides “intermittent security sweeps and surveillance.” There is no full time law enforcement or security presence for the county facilities.
The building does not provide secured parking, elevators or stairwells for county employees and elected officials. The Grand Jury was also concerned about the fact many county employees walk multiple blocks across the campus multiple times a day, leaving them vulnerable.
The Grand Jury recommended immediate action to improve the security for county employees who are assigned to work in the Cox Medical Tower and also to explore the “long-term practicality” of leasing that office space instead of building space closer to the main campus or repurposing existing space.
Conditions at the Juvenile Court and Detention Center were also criticized in the report, saying the facility has fallen into “disrepair.” The elevator was deemed “unreliable” and a portion of the basement was found to flood leaving a foul odor that lingers in the area.
The Court and Center were found to be lacking adequate space, including the need for more attorney/client meeting rooms and more bathrooms.
The Grand Jury noted a state law that will require the Center to assist minors under the age of 18 by 2021 could result in even more space issues. The Grand Jury recommended immediate repairs to the building for the “health and safety of the many employees and families.” Also a review of space to see what will be needed to meet state law requirements in 2021.
The report states there are leaks in the plumbing within the Greene County Sheriff’s Office that causes sewage to repeatedly leak into and soil carpets creating a public health hazard. Immediate action was recommended to repair leaks and fix the sanitation problems.
The staff of the Greene County Jail were praised as “exceptional” but the report noted dangerously overcrowded conditions. An “unacceptably high ratio of inmates to deputies” was cited as a critical risk to all involved.
The report recommends hiring more deputies and detention officers along with expansion of the jail. A new HVAC system is also recommended to combat issues with “mold, odor and humidity issues.”
There were also health concerns at the Highway Department due to the discovery of creosote in the groundwater. The Grand Jury recommended the county begin looking for a new site for the department.
Also among the Grand Jury’s concerns:
It was discovered the fire extinguishers throughout the Greene County facilities campus were not maintained or inspected. The Grand Jury recommended steps be taken to make sure all of the county’s safety equipment is checked and properly maintained.
The Grand Jury noted that the Office of Emergency Management is working with equipment that is at least eight years old along with having scheduling issues in the Public Safety Center building due to sharing space with the Sheriff’s Office and the community. A recommendation was made to evaluate training room reservation procedures and investigate upgrades in OEM equipment.
Almost all of the facilities that were toured faced a shortage of space including the Highway Department being unable to store expensive and critical equipment in one location.