Purchase photos

Trego hoping for buyer for detention center

1/2/2014

By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

WaKEENEY -- Trego County commissioners continue to hold out hope they'll still be able to sell the long-troubled and long-empty juvenile detention center.

Requests for bids so far have gone unanswered, and a couple businesses have taken a look at the four-building campus on the city's southeast side.

"We've had a couple (prospective buyers) view the facility, but they've not said anything," Trego County Commission Chairman Dean Papes said. "The two that looked at it are serious. At least we think they're serious."

Failing that, commissioners are keeping open other options, such as moving the county's ambulance service into one of the buildings.

Already, the gymnasium at the former Greater Western Kansas Regional Juvenile Detention Center, built in 1993, is being used by WaKeeney's recreation commission for basketball.

The detention center has had a rocky start from the outset.

Trego, as the host county, was charged with selecting an operator for the site.

The center has set empty since mid-2010 as Trego County tried to find someone to operate the facility and house troubled juveniles from the 25 member counties.

State officials all but turned their back on the county, even though they jointly owned the center with the county.

When the county made its final payment on the center last year, it started the process of gaining full ownership, a move designed to lead the way to its eventual sale.

Commissioners earlier this fall started advertising the property for sale.

Despite that, they didn't receive any bids.

The facility cost $1.2 million to build, with Trego County's share amounting to just shy of $250,000.