Room to Grow Eyed

Space used to house male inmates in Ohio County may be expanded next year.

During a recent Ohio County Commission meeting, members approved renewing the West Virginia Division of Corrections’ existing lease for the space for a one-year period. Ohio County has leased out the jail building, located 1501 Eoff St., Wheeling, to the state DOC since 1998. But another lease agreement is under negotiation.

”We’re working on a bigger lease project with them to modify the space that will be available to them and also increase the revenues that come to Ohio County,” said county Administrator Greg Stewart.

He said that after a new, longer-term lease is approved by both the state and county commission, renovation work likely would begin about two months later. To potentially make more room for the DOC, offices of the magistrates and the Lee Day Report Center would be moved to the fifth floor of another county annex building on 16th Street, where the sheriff’s department also is housed on the first floor.

The state DOC uses the facility, known as the Ohio County Correctional Center, to house a maximum of 67 short-term inmates who are non-violent offenders. The inmates are those who have violated their parole due to non-criminal acts, and they often perform community service such as collecting trash or shoveling snow.

”It’s a quiet facility. A lot of people don’t know what we do here,” Warden William Yurcina said.

Yurcina said at first the new space would only be used to move administrative offices and potentially house an additional six inmates. In the longer term, the DOC would like to have room for another 30 inmates there.

The Eoff Street center was built in 1974 to house Ohio County’s prisoners and did so until 1994, when the Northern Regional Jail in Moundsville opened.