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County commissioners approve deputy hires, discuss jail renovations

FORT KENT, Maine — The Aroostook County Commissioners approved the hiring of several new deputies and corrections officers during the Feb. 20 meeting here.

The commissioners approved the Aroostook County Sheriff’s Office hiring two full-time deputies — Isaac Ward of Presque Isle and Michael DeLena of Eagle Lake.

Ward will patrol the Central Aroostook area and DeLena the Route 11 corridor of The County.

Sheriff Shawn Gillen told the commissioners that both law enforcement officers are “very well qualified.”

Ward currently serves as an officer with the Presque Isle Police Department and DeLena with the Fort Kent Police Department. Both will begin working for the ACSO at the beginning of March.

Gillen described the appointed deputies as “top-notch,” with regard to the training they have received and experience they will bring to the sheriff’s office.

The commissioners also appointed three part-time corrections officers to serve the Aroostook County Jail: Doug Rice and Steven Nightingale, both of Houlton, and Austin White of Oakfield.

Also at the meeting, the commissioners received an update from Bryan Jandreau, facilities and IT director for the Aroostook County Jail regarding planned renovations to the facility intended to satisfy requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

A state accessibility coordinator who evaluated the jail pointed out unmet ADA

standards at the facility, including issues with public access to the jail for disabled visitors, access for disabled inmates to the booking area of the jail, and issues with showers and visitation for the hearing impaired.

Armstrong Engineering of Fort Fairfield is currently designing a phased plan to bring the jail up to par with ADA standards.

Jandreau said he expects the project to bring the jail into compliance will take about 16 weeks to complete once construction begins in several months, at a cost of about $125,000.

The County received a state contribution of $50,000 toward the project and has $100,000 in a reserve account for the remaining costs.

The next meeting of the Aroostook County Commissioners will start at 1 p.m. Wednesday, March 20, at the Caribou Courthouse.

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