Estill County Jail forced to close

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ESTILL COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ)- The Estill County Jail closed its doors Friday night after the state ordered it to earlier this week. It is all because of what should be a simple repair. The county Judge-Executive says the jail’s sprinkler system would cost about $5,000 to repair. He says it is money the jail just does not have.

The jail staff desperately tried to find new jails to send all their inmates to Friday. Inmates’ families say it could be burdensome to drive to their loved ones’ new jails, some about two hours away.

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“You should pay for what you do. I agree, but you should be able to pay for it in your own county, close,” Dottie Gregory, the Grandmother of an Estill inmate, said.

The Judge-Executive says the jail is already $30,000 dollars in debt from February and does not have the $5,000 to pay for the sprinkler repair. Deputy Jailer Peggy Frazier says she thinks he just wants to see the jail close.

“It’s like he’s cutting his nose off to spite his face. It’s just something he wants done and he’s gonna get it done one way or the other,” Frazier said.

The Judge-Executive did not have time to talk on camera, but over the phone he told ABC 36 that is not true. It is what is happening, though, and Frazier says about half of the staff, six or so people, could lose their jobs.

“There’s other people in here that have children, you know, that need this job. This is their livelihood,” Frazier said.

Dottie Gregory says even though it seems like a small number of jobs lost, it has a big impact on her home.

“You hate to see people lose a job in a county that we don’t have anything here,” Gregory said.

The judge-executive says he has filed a petition with the state, but he i not sure when he will hear back.

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Veronica Jean Seltzer joins ABC 36 as Anchor/Reporter. On most weekdays, you will see her reporting the news. VJ hails from a small horse farm outside New York City and most recently comes from South Bend, Indiana where she reported for the CBS and Fox affiliates. VJ holds a Master of Science in Journalism degree from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Tufts University. Her passion for journalism runs deep. It began as she studied graffiti as an ancient form of communication in Athens, Greece. While a student journalist in Morocco, she learned her most important journalistic lesson: good stories are about people. VJ loves life in and around Lexington. She feels most at home among horses and a diverse community of fascinating people. She enjoys reporting during the week and on the weekend she strives to bring her neighbors the news that matters most to them. VJ enjoys going to neighborhood events, exploring, horseback riding, skiing, sailing, and good movies. Look for her out and about in the community! VJ invites you to reach out to her with story ideas or just to say hello! Find her on Facebook at Veronica Jean Seltzer ABC 36, tweet her @VJS_ABC36, or email her at VSeltzer@wtvq.com. She looks forward to hearing from you!