Inmates move into new jail

Belknap County Corrections Center opens after delays in staffing, telephone system

LACONIA — The first 24 inmates moved into the new 18,000-square-foot, 72-bed Belknap County Corrections Center Tuesday afternoon and more will follow in the weeks ahead.
Belknap County Corrections Superintendent Keith Gray said that 14 men and 10 women, all of whom are minimum security inmates, are now housed in the facility.
He said that the transfer of inmates to the new building took longer than originally projected due to nearly two months of delay in the hiring four new corrections officers deemed essential to opening the new facility. In early August the Belknap County Delegation approved a supplemental appropriation of $95,000 to hire the new officers.
Belknap County Commission Chairman Dave DeVoy (R-Sanbornton), who heads the Jail Building Committee which met Tuesday morning, questioned Gray about why it took so long to move the inmates, pointing out that he was under the impression that the inmates would move in right after Labor Day.
Gray said there were no telephones in the new center until just recently and that blending the new addition's control room in with the existing jail's control room has been a difficult task.
The new control room will eventually handle all of the security tasks but Gray said that both will be in operation for a period of time until the second phase of the $8 million project, renovations of the existing jail, has made more progress.
Completion date for the existing project is late October.
DeVoy said he is still hoping that the corrections center project will come in about $600,000 under budget and that he will be able to convince the delegation to repurpose the surplus bond funds to use them to replace the roof of the Belknap County Nursing Home.
“That's a high priority project for the county. We can't work on the roof if it snows and I'm hoping that we can do the work before winter weather arrives,” said DeVoy.