Construction to make the Oklahoma County Jail more COVID resistant could begin as early as next week, according to Jail Trust Chairwoman Tricia Everest.
The trust authorized jail CEO Greg Williams to enter into a $3 Million no-bid contract to begin repairs to air handling and plumbing equipment
“I’m very grateful to start to be able to improve the safety and well-being in the health inside the facility,” Everest said. “I also fully believe the things that we agreed to today are representative of what the cares fund was able to be reimbursed.”
During public comment, local business owner Sean Cummings raised concern over the contract being given to Harrison, Walker and Harper, LP out of Paris Texas.
“Get a company from here, that is a reasonable request,” Cummings said. “I’ve seen many of these projects where an out-of-state contractor is hired and they bring in their own people from Texas and we are in desperate need of work here, desperate need.”
Later in the meeting, the board voted to cancel a regular meeting scheduled for next Monday.
Trust member Francie Ekwerekwu had requested another vote Monday to remove Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers from the jail.
Trust attorney John Michael Williams said a 4 to 2 vote last week to remove ICE did not constitute a majority, telling Everest, “....the trust did not take official action because there were less than five affirmative votes.”
Due to schedule conflicts, Everest said she was unable to vote last week.
When asked whether she would support removing ICE officers, Everest said, “personally, I think it’s far more complicated than having an office or not an office, there’s more to it than that. I realize that I know very little on the issue of what that means and doesn’t mean.”
Ekwerekwu said she learned Everest wanted to cancel the meeting to discuss the topic minutes before Wednesday’s meeting.
“I’m disappointed, honestly shocked I don’t really even know what to think,” she said. “I think there’s a want to delay voting on the ICE issues, I can’t understand why. I asked why and I got an answer that centered around efficiency of business.”
“I do believe that we could consolidate the two meetings,” Everest said. “I requested it this morning upon looking at the agenda.”
The next meeting is set for October 19.