Friday, June 22, 2018
News Roundup

Hernando jail's new medical building debuts

SPRING HILL — U.S. Rep Rich Nugent put his arm around Hernando Sheriff Al Nienhuis as the men walked down a hallway of the Hernando County Detention Center.

"This place looks 100 percent better," said Nugent, who led the Sheriff's Office when the agency took over operation of the jail from a private company in August 2010.

Back then, the jail was in serious disrepair, the medical unit was undersized, and a standalone medical facility was still an idea. On Tuesday morning, Nugent helped Nienhuis cut a green ribbon across the door of a new $1.5 million medical building.

When it opens in two or three weeks, the one-story structure will add much-needed beds and bring the jail's medical care into the modern era, Nienhuis and his staff told a group of reporters, county commissioners and other local officials.

The jail's existing medical unit has just nine cells, one of them without plumbing. The unit is on the second floor of the detention center, making access a problem.

The new building features separate units for men and women and a total of 36 beds. There are two treatment rooms and two specially vented isolation cells to keep airborne diseases from spreading.

Another feature the existing unit lacks: a low-impact, padded cell to prevent inmates from injuring themselves.

The design of the extra space will allow staffers to easily monitor inmates suffering from drug and alcohol symptoms or mental health issues, said medical director Kristine DeKany.

About a third of the jail population is taking prescribed psychotropic medication, she said.

DeKany worked with Clemons Rutherford & Associates, the Tallahassee firm that drew up the plans for the new building. The contractor, Allstate Construction Inc. of Tampa, finished the project within its budget and just a bit later than planned. The cost for the infirmary was paid out of the $3 million the County Commission set aside for repairs when the sheriff took over operation of the jail.

Beyond its operational advantages, county officials are hoping the new unit pays dividends by helping to lure federal agencies that pay to house detainees.

Hernando County once had contracts with the U.S. Marshals Service and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which paid the county to house people picked up on warrants or detained while their citizenship status was checked. The payments covered the cost to house those people and also included a built-in profit margin that went into the county's general fund.

The federal detainees were moved in November 2009 to a new facility built for them in Baker County near Jacksonville to be closer to immigration offices and federal courts. But the agencies still contract with local jails throughout the state, and Hernando is close to the federal courthouse in Tampa. The lack of a proper medical unit, however, has been a hurdle.

Nienhuis said he and his staff have already met with representatives from two federal agencies to show them the new building.

"They came with negative attitude and when they left they had a positive one," he said.

Tony Marrero can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1431. Follow @tmarrerotimes on Twitter.

Comments
Health care IT company CareSync shuts down, laying off 292

Health care IT company CareSync shuts down, laying off 292

TAMPA — The days ahead were supposed to be bright.For weeks, health care tech company CareSync had been thrown into question as founder and CEO and founder Travis Bond unexpectedly departed, kicking off multiple rounds of layoffs. But that was all in...
Updated: 12 minutes ago
Steve Yzerman: Lightning won’t re-sign forward Chris Kunitz

Steve Yzerman: Lightning won’t re-sign forward Chris Kunitz

As expected, Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said he does not intend to re-sign veteran forward Chris Kunitz, who will seek his fifth Stanley Cup with a different team next season.Kunitz, 38, brought much-needed playoff experience in his lone...
Updated: 14 minutes ago
Coal and gas hold onto their share of electricity production, despite massive push for renewables

Coal and gas hold onto their share of electricity production, despite massive push for renewables

Here’s an intriguing set of facts: Coal produces the same percentage of the world’s electricity as it did 20 years ago. Oil and gas remained about level, too.Same for non-fossil fuel sources. In other words, the massive push towards renewables over t...
Updated: 14 minutes ago
Clearwater police search for ‘Bic Bandit’ accused of stealing lighters

Clearwater police search for ‘Bic Bandit’ accused of stealing lighters

CLEARWATER — Police detectives are searching for a man coined the "Bic Bandit" based on reports that he’s stolen dozens of lighters from the same 7-Eleven.According to Clearwater police, the man has swiped the lighters four times in the last month, t...
Updated: 22 minutes ago
Column: Three lessons from Trump’s immigration fiasco

Column: Three lessons from Trump’s immigration fiasco

Even though President Donald Trump has signed an executive order reversing his policy of separating families who immigrated illegally at the border, the shards are still being reassembled.We still don’t know what’s happening with the 2,300 children a...
Updated: 23 minutes ago
FHP: One dead, three seriously injured in head-on Pasco crash

FHP: One dead, three seriously injured in head-on Pasco crash

DADE CITY — A Dade City man was killed and three others were seriously injured after a pickup truck and motorcycle crashed head-on Friday morning, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.Floyd Williamson, 72, of Lakeland, was driving northbound on U....
Updated: 1 hour ago
Convicted St. Pete heroin supplier gets 25 years in federal prison

Convicted St. Pete heroin supplier gets 25 years in federal prison

TAMPA — A federal judge ordered a 25-year prison term Friday for a man convicted of running an organization that moved large quantities of heroin into St. Petersburg.The sentencing of William Harold Wright punctuated a criminal case that was emblemat...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Derrick Brooks won’t pursue USF’s AD job

Derrick Brooks won’t pursue USF’s AD job

The local favorite for USF's athletic director job said Friday that he is not a candidate.In a three-paragraph statement, Pro Football Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks said his commitments to Brooks DeBartolo Collegiate High School, his charities and fam...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Body of missing Hernando park ranger found in Georgia; boyfriend being questioned

Body of missing Hernando park ranger found in Georgia; boyfriend being questioned

Georgia detectives on Friday recovered the body of Mitzi Marie Babb, a 43-year-old Hernando park ranger who had been missing since Tuesday.Her boyfriend, arrested Thursday on unrelated charges, has been called a person of interest in her disappearanc...
Updated: 2 hours ago
A Pasco driver was annoyed another driver was texting. So he pointed a firearm at her.

A Pasco driver was annoyed another driver was texting. So he pointed a firearm at her.

PORT RICHEY — A 41-year-old Uber driver was arrested Friday after police said he pointed a firearm at another driver because he was annoyed that she was texting and driving.Philip Macchio was driving near State Road 52 and U.S. 19 around 12:30 a.m. F...
Updated: 2 hours ago