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If you can’t stand the heat, get an air conditioner in your kitchen.

That’s the conclusion the County Board reached Wednesday when it voted to purchase two new cooling units for the kitchen of the Gage County Detention Center.

The county is purchasing the air conditioners from Noakes in Beatrice for $7,240, totaling $9,318 after installation. The funds will come from the sheriff’s building and grounds fund.

Courthouse building and grounds manager Dave Jones said the kitchen area in the jail has had issues with heat for years, and options are limited as far as ventilation.

“They’ve always had a problem with heat in there, both in summer and winter it’s extremely hot,” he said. “This started out as a discussion of getting that heat vented out and that roof over there is a hollow-core cement structure that couldn’t handle the large penetrations that vents up through the ceiling would create.”

Inmates at the jail are served three meals daily, a cold breakfast followed by warm lunch and dinners.

County Board Chairman Myron Dorn said the problem was apparent when board members did a walkthrough of the jail recently.

“It’s been an issue over there for a while and it’s gotten very, very hot in that kitchen whenever they’re doing any work, and that’s giving it a compliment,” he said. “I think for the safety of that employee we need to do something.”

Board member Gary Lytle speculated part of the reason the kitchen gets so hot is because workers are cooking for more inmates at the jail, which is often filled to capacity.

“While this is $10,000, I don’t know that there’s a whole lot we can do differently, and quite frankly I think in my mind it’s a safety concern,” he said. “I bet it was close to 100 degrees when we were in there. That’s not a safe environment.”

Across the street, the courthouse will receive new lighting after the County Board approved an agreement for flood lights and lenses.

Jones said the current lights, which illuminate the building at night, have been used for around 20 years and are becoming costly to maintain.

The board will purchase new LED lights from Echo Group Inc. at a cost of $12,641.

Jones said the bulbs and filters project a warm glow on the courthouse, which looks slightly more gold than the current lights.

“It’s an intense bright white light that shines through a colored glass,” Jones said. “It gives it that nice amber color. It’s a little bit darker color than what was on there before, which I like. It saturates the stone and there’s also other colors, so in the future if we did purchase colored lenses we can change it to blue for autism or whatever.”

Lytle said that compared to the cost of maintaining the current, outdated bulbs, the LED upgraded bulbs should pay for themselves in as few as six years.

In addition, the LED bulbs have an estimated life of 24 years and use less energy to operate.

Reach Scott Koperski at scott.koperski@beatricedailysun.com. Follow him on Twitter @ScottKoperski.

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