Guthrie County Sheriff Marty Arganbright is happy with the county’s current plans to add space onto the county jail and the sheriff’s office, but said he’s frustrated that it has taken 10 years for the county to get to this point in the planning process.

The Guthrie County Board of Supervisors recently agreed to hire architect firm Shive-Hattery to draw up plans to build a 14,000 square-foot, 24-bed, $6.8 million addition on the northeast side of the courthouse in Guthrie Center.

Friday morning Arganbright counted the 11 inmates who were squeezed into the 10-bed jail and said he had at least three more inmates on their way to the jail that afternoon.

The jail, which was built in 1963, hasn’t been empty in years, he said.

“Ten, fifteen years ago we used to empty out,” Arganbright said. “We don’t do that anymore.”

Arganbright also expressed concern over the number of outstanding arrest warrants ‑ which total more than 100 – that have piled up in the county, mostly because he wouldn’t have anywhere to hold the criminals should he find them and arrest them.

But, the jail isn’t the only place that’s cramped and unsafe. 

There’s a narrow, steep set of stairs that officers use to take prisoners down to the basement-level jail, which poses many hazards. And next to the stairs is the Sheriff’s “evidence room,” which is more of a hallway than a room and is completely full.

“Our evidence is awful,” Arganbright said. “We just put evidence wherever we can fit it.”

Even the county’s eight deputies are all crammed into a shared workspace in the small, downstairs office.

There’s not much of a kitchen, either. The jail has a shared white fridge/freezer combination. It’s a model that was popular in most homes in the ‘90s.

Arganbright said he’s been complaining about the conditions in the jail for more than 10 years, but the board of supervisors doesn’t seem to understand how bad the conditions in the jail are.

During a recent meeting with Shive-Hattery, Arganbright said he told the supervisors they needed to move from the planning phases with the architect firm to design stages.

“One supervisor said ‘what? Why are we talking about this? What brought this up that we’re building a new jail now?’” Arganbright said. “And I said ‘are you serious? I’ve been talking to you guys for 10 years about it. It’s not new.’

“It just pissed me off,” Arganbright said. 

One supervisor voted against hiring Shive-Hattery to design the addition. 

Mike Dickson was the no vote. He said he wasn’t for or against the idea, but proposed the board go slow and get another option besides the $6.775 million projected cost given by Shive-Hattery. 

“I thank that’s a lot of money,” said Dickson. “Are we giving the best option to the people?”

Everett Grasty made the motion to proceed, seconded by J.D. Kuster. 

“I don’t want to go back to square one and start over,” Grasty said.

Arganbright said the group has looked at other options, including renovating the current jail and basement of the courthouse.

He said there are several reasons a renovation wouldn’t work. For example, the entire courthouse would need a new sprinkler system because it doesn’t meet current fire codes.

There are also public bathrooms in the basement, which would need to be replaced.

Plus, the sheriff’s office would have to move to another space and inmates wouldn’t be able to stay in the jail during the renovation process, which would eat away at any savings a renovation could offer. 

Arganbright said forming a jail committee will be the next step the county has to take to get ready for the addition. The committee will help shape what the new jail will look like and help present the plan publicly.

*Reporter Gordon Castile contributed to this story

Guthrie County Sheriff Marty Arganbright is happy with the county’s current plans to add space onto the county jail and the sheriff’s office, but said he’s frustrated that it has taken 10 years for the county to get to this point in the planning process.

The board recently agreed to hire architect firm Shive-Hattery to draw up plans to build a 14,000 square-foot, 24-bed, $6.8 million addition on the northeast side of the courthouse in Guthrie Center.

Friday morning Arganbright counted the 11 inmates who were squeezed into the 10-bed jail and said he had at least three more inmates on their way to the jail that afternoon.

The jail, which was built in 1963, hasn’t been empty in years, he said.

“Ten, fifteen years ago we used to empty out,” Arganbright said. “We don’t do that anymore.”

Arganbright also expressed concern over the number of outstanding arrest warrants ‑ which total more than 100 – that have piled up in the county, mostly because he wouldn’t have anywhere to hold the criminals should he find them and arrest them.

But, the jail isn’t the only place that’s cramped and unsafe. 

There’s a narrow, steep set of stairs that officers use to take prisoners down to the basement-level jail, which poses many hazards. And next to the stairs is the Sheriff’s “evidence room,” which is more of a hallway than a room and is completely full.

“Our evidence is awful,” Arganbright said. “We just put evidence wherever we can fit it.”

Even the county’s eight deputies are all crammed into a shared workspace in the small, downstairs office.

There’s not much of a kitchen, either. The jail has a shared white fridge/freezer combination. It’s a model that was popular in most homes in the ‘90s.

Arganbright said he’s been complaining about the conditions in the jail for more than 10 years, but the board of supervisors doesn’t seem to understand how bad the conditions in the jail are.

During a recent meeting with Shive-Hattery, Arganbright said he told the supervisors they needed to move from the planning phases with the architect firm to design stages.

“One supervisor said ‘what? Why are we talking about this? What brought this up that we’re building a new jail now?’” Arganbright said. “And I said ‘are you serious? I’ve been talking to you guys for 10 years about it. It’s not new.’

“It just pissed me off,” Arganbright said. 

One supervisor voted against hiring Shive-Hattery to design the addition. 

Mike Dickson was the no vote. He said he wasn’t for or against the idea, but proposed the board go slow and get another option besides the $6.775 million projected cost given by Shive-Hattery. 

“I thank that’s a lot of money,” said Dickson. “Are we giving the best option to the people?”

Everett Grasty made the motion to proceed, seconded by J.D. Kuster. 

“I don’t want to go back to square one and start over,” Grasty said.

Arganbright said the group has looked at other options, including renovating the current jail and basement of the courthouse.

He said there are several reasons a renovation wouldn’t work. For example, the entire courthouse would need a new sprinkler system because it doesn’t meet current fire codes.

There are also public bathrooms in the basement, which would need to be replaced.

Plus, the sheriff’s office would have to move to another space and inmates wouldn’t be able to stay in the jail during the renovation process, which would eat away at any savings a renovation could offer. 

Arganbright said forming a jail committee will be the next step the county has to take to get ready for the addition. The committee will help shape what the new jail will look like and help present the plan publicly.

*Reporter Gordon Castile contributed to this story