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Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

Try out new jail without committing a crime

Sheriff seeking faux inmates to practice for the real thing

By Margie Wuebker
How would you like to spend a night in the new Mercer County Adult Detention Center?
That can be arranged without committing a felony or a misdemeanor thanks to practice sessions or trial runs before the real inmates arrive in time for dinner Feb. 28.
Mercer County Sheriff Jeff Grey said the first practice session at the new jail will take place Feb. 5-6 with another planned Feb. 19-20. A maximum of 45 "practice inmates" are needed for each time.
"These are trial runs to assist the corrections staff with learning the new operation," Grey said. "We don't want anything to go wrong when the real inmates arrive. After all, this is a big change for everyone involved."
People interested in experiencing time behind bars must pick up applications at the new location - 4835 state Route 29 West - between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Participants must not have a criminal record within the past 10 years. Additionally, they must be in good health and sign a waiver.
Anyone needing additional information should contact Capt. Jodie Lange at the new facility.
Employees have started working in the new building with the administrative staff and civil division becoming familiar with new quarters and getting organized before other employees move to the location. The target date for the move is Jan. 4 with the 911 switchover taking place Jan. 4 and 5.
Registration of sex offenders, applications for employment, applications for concealed carry gun permits and public records requests should now be made at the new jail between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.
The first public open house took place earlier in the month with nearly 2,000 people coming to check out the 110-bed facility financed by a 0.5 percent sales tax increase approved by voters in November 2007. Additional public open houses are being planned for the future.
The new 50,000-square-foot detention center/sheriff's office will replace the 15-bed jail in Celina that opened back in 1939.
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