The nearly two-year endeavor to expand the Grayson County Detention Center came to a successful conclusion this week as officials cut the ribbon for what will serve as the new female facility.
“It’s a great feat for us to get this accomplished,” said Grayson County Jailer Jason Woosley, addressing attendees of Wednesday morning’s ribbon cutting and facility tour.
Designed by Louisville, Kentucky architecture/engineering firm DLZ Kentucky, Inc. with Winchester, Kentucky’s Codell Construction Company serving as the construction managers, the Grayson County Detention Center’s expansion adds 200 beds to the overall facility with dormitories and segregation cells; however, according to DLZ Principal Architect Eric Ratts, what sets the jail apart are the programs it will be able to offer for inmate rehabilitation thanks to a classroom that is included in the expansion.
“(It is) critical that you do that in jails today,” said Ratts. “...You just can’t put them in, what my dad used to say, ‘the six-sided box’ and expect change.”
Grayson County Judge Executive Kevin Henderson said Woosley came to him in 2017 — not long after Henderson was appointed Judge Executive — with the idea of expanding the detention center to house all of its inmates on one campus, as opposed to in separate locations in Leitchfield, a request he was happy to oblige given the Grayson County Detention Center’s reputation as “the best jail anywhere in the state” thanks to its ability to be financially self-sustaining.
“When jails start to go bad, they call (Woosley) and ask him how to straighten them up, and the staff are the ones that go and straighten them up,” Henderson said, adding that the construction of the new expansion went “flawlessly.”
“It’s just a remarkable facility,” he said.
According to Woosley, for all intents and purposes, as of Wednesday morning, the expansion was finished; however, it was scheduled to undergo final inspections by the state building inspector on Wednesday and the Department of Corrections on Friday.
After these inspections, Woosley said the jail would begin moving female inmates into the facility, and, after inmates are inside, officials cannot offer a public tour of it, which is why they chose to hold the ribbon cutting and tour on Wednesday.
State Sen. Steve Meredith (R-05), also in attendance at Wednesday’s event, encouraged the jail staff to take pride in their work.
“This isn’t just about housing people,” Meredith said. “This is about changing lives, and I’ve seen you all do that and the commitment you make to it. And I know you can’t make them all winners, but you try.”
State Rep. Samara Heavrin (R-18) also spoke and called the jail’s expansion a “testament to Grayson County.”
“When I first got elected to the General Assembly, so many people were like, ‘Oh my gosh, you all have a self-funded jail, that’s great,’ ” she said. “And I hear all these issues with my other representatives that don’t have the luxuries that we have here, and so that truly is a testament to our jailers, to the staff here.”
Echoing Henderson’s sentiments, Woosley said that, aside from taking longer to complete than he would have preferred, even in light of COVID-19 and the size of the project, there were no major issues with its construction.
The final cost of the expansion has not yet been determined; however, according to Woosley, an $18.5 million bond was taken out with $14.5 million of that designated for the expansion and the remaining $4 million designated for other expenditures.