- Associated Press - Monday, June 12, 2017

IRONTON, Mo. (AP) - With concerns about bats literally falling from the ceiling, a rural Missouri county’s prosecuting attorney’s office has decided to relocate.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (https://bit.ly/2rVhroQ ) reports that the Iron County prosecutor’s office moved to the courthouse Thursday. It was previously housed in a former sheriff’s residence attached to the historic jail that opened in 1867.

“They found bats in the attic last year,” said Sheriff Roger Medley. “Bat guano or something was coming through the ceiling. So they hurried up and moved them out.”

Missouri probation and parole employees moved out of the second floor of the same building last year.

“The bats would actually fall through and be laying on their desk,” Medley said.

Medley has long made public his belief that the county in Missouri’s Old Lead Belt region, 100 miles south of St. Louis, needs a new jail. About 20 inmates remain housed in the jail.

The jail is known by some as the dungeon because of its thick, stone walls and bare bones features. It remained virtually unchanged from the original design until 1978, when an addition was added for women and juveniles.

At least one relative of a jail inmate has expressed concerns about the jail.

“I don’t know what the health hazard is for the prisoners,” Medley said. “It’s all in the same building. I can kind of understand their concern.”

A 50-page assessment of the jail in 2012 cited a lack of daylight, temperature control, smoke detection, sprinklers, unobstructed exit paths, accessibility for handicapped people and visibility into cells, as well as other concerns.

About 30 states have jail standards, but not Missouri.

Medley said he hasn’t noticed bats or guano in the cells, but he’s continuing to investigate.

Medley said local elected officials now agree a new jail is needed.

“We have been talking with an architect,” he said. “The commissioners are trying to figure out a way to start budgeting to move forward with it. There’s still no money, but they acknowledge that there is a need.”

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Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, https://www.stltoday.com

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