Nearly a decade after it closed, the old Moniteau County Jail finally came down.
Haile Excavating Inc., crews started dismantling the former jail Friday, reducing the building to a pile of rubble in less than a day. The old facility, used as the county jail from its opening in 1981 until 2013, was leveled to make way for a potential future expansion project by neighboring Moniteau County Emergency Dispatch (MCED).
Tony Haile, owner of Haile Excavating, said Monday there were no unforeseen issues with the demolition.
Kevin Wieberg, MCED director, said the process began Dec. 12 when dispatch purchased the property from the county government for its appraised value of $34,592. However, the demolition bid for Haile Excavating was $9,700.
Although inmates and jailers moved to the current jail in 2013, the sheriff's office initially remained behind. Sheriff Tony Wheatley said the building had a lot of issues, which resulted in the building being vacated by the sheriff's office in 2018 when it moved to 110 N. High St.
"The jail, it had a lot of issues with mold, black mold, in the building. It was coming through the walls of the old sheriff's office and they tried to ... remediate the mold a couple times but failed," Wheatley said. "There wasn't enough room there for an office. It only had two offices in that whole jail, the rest of it was all rooms for inmates. It wasn't near big enough for what we needed, and with the mold and the issue they had with the building continuing to seep water and stuff like that, it wasn't safe to keep people in there."
With growing staff, responsibilities and need for additional space, Wieberg said MCED has nearly outgrown its current facility at 604 N. Oak St., which was constructed in 1997.
"We're in need of more office space, a larger call center and even our equipment itself has (grown) also, there's more equipment than there was whenever the building was first constructed as well," he said. "That and just to meet the needs of what we're wanting to accomplish, we're needing to expand and that kind of led us to, since the building next door was vacant, we looked at purchasing that from the county, which we have."
Wieberg said there was "no feasible way" to remodel the old jail, as it was constructed with concrete blocks and jail cells.
Emergency dispatch had no options, but to demolish the structure and begin looking at building an addition to meet its future needs, he said.
In addition to more space for offices, equipment and a larger call center, Wieberg also said there's a need for meeting space -- which can become vital when an emergency strikes.
"There's a lot of organizations that will utilize our conference room and it's just not sufficient. Even our board meetings are crowded just with our ... seven-member board, and it's snug in there every meeting that we have," he said. "But we're also looking at if there's a large disaster in the county. Like, for instance, if a tornado were to come through the county, we would need a lot of space to work and function (as) an emergency operations center with our other partner agency heads to help resolve a lot of the issues that occur during (emergencies). Right now there's just not a feasible space for that."
Wieberg doesn't have a timeline for the project, but said MCED has been saving for building an addition.
"I would venture to say that we're going to begin the planning process this year," he said. "As far as what that looks like in the future, I'm not sure if 2023 would be the year that we break ground in the addition. It's just too early to tell at this point."
The demolished jail was constructed in 1980-81 after an Oct. 7, 1979, blaze at California Construction Supplies heavily damaged or destroyed many buildings within the same block, including the original jail. Voters passed a $175,000 general obligation bond Dec. 18, 1979, to construct the facility, which opened May 24, 1981, with a ribbon cutting.