Oxford County considers moving investigators to proposed West Paris substation

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Aug. 6—PARIS — Oxford County Sheriff Christopher Wainwright discussed with commissioners this week the idea to temporarily move the criminal investigation unit near the future site of a substation in West Paris while the jail undergoes a major HVAC renovation.

During the renovations, the Oxford County Sheriff's Office administration would move into the space occupied by investigators on the campus of the Oxford County Courthouse on Western Avenue.

"I think it is important to keep the administration here on campus," Wainwright said during Thursday's workshop.

The county would rent additional space at the former Ledgeview Living Center, a nursing home on state Route 26 in West Paris that closed in 2018.

Renovations have been ongoing at the facility and will soon be home to the West Paris Post Office and the West Paris Water District. The town has been without a post office since Memorial Day 2021.

"They have done phenomenal work remodeling the building," County Administrator Donald Durrah said. "It's not just putting paint on the walls. They are replacing walls, replacing everything."

The county hopes to open a substation at the building and rent the garage on the property to store its trailer and command vehicles. That would open up parking spaces and storage at the courthouse and protect the equipment from the elements.

The office for the county's investigators would be separate from the substation.

The overhaul of the HVAC system at the jail would also include electrical upgrades, a generator and an isolation cell if an inmate needs to be separated from the general jail population, for instance because of COVID. The approximate $2 million project will be paid with federal American Rescue Plan Act funds.

Commissioners said they supported the direction the sheriff and administrator were headed with the proposed plan. They said they want more details and would like to tour the facility first, which will likely happen in two weeks after the next meeting, if it can be arranged.

In other business, Durrah reviewed a new romance in the workplace policy with commissioners. The proposed policy featured two versions — one featured relationships among all employees and the other focused on romantic and dating relationships between management/supervisors with employees who they supervise. Commissioners indicated that the policy should only deal with the latter option.

Durrah said he would bring the proposal to the department heads for their feedback before he brings it back to the board for a formal vote.

The commission accepted the resignation of Deputy Robert Nejad, who is moving out of the area, and approved the hiring of Michael Lebel as a full-time corrections officer.

Commissioners also adopted an update to the civil service fees it charges attorneys for services, such as serving summonses and witness subpoenas.

An insurance claim with the county risk pool was settled for $1,000 to remove mold from a building at the Oxford County Regional Airport in Oxford.