SUPERIOR — The Mineral County jail in Superior has remained primarily empty the past several years, but that’s no longer the case.
When Sheriff Mike Toth was appointed last August, the reopening was a top priority and earlier this month, it happened.
“I’m excited for the community. I think that I was able to do what I had promised I was going to do, what I was brought in to do. Morale at this time in the department is at an all-time high with the jailers, the dispatchers and the deputies,” Toth said.
The new sheriff says the jail hasn't been operational for about two years because of problems with staffing and escapees. It has closed twice recently, in 2017 and 2019.
Since then, Mineral County has been financially on the hook to relocate inmates, primarily using the Sanders County jail in Thompson Falls.
“They’ve really come to bat for us. But we have to pay to house them there, and it costs money, and then we have to transport and that costs money,” Toth said.
Toth first had to hire a team to staff the facility, and six jailers were hired. The detention facility booked its first individual a week ago on a driving offense.
Now, two women and six men are being housed at the facility. Eight detainees currently housed at Sanders County will be brought over this week.
Sheriff Toth expects more occupants to come from around the state to fill the 27-bed facility.
“Because they’re overflowed, they’re desperate to send people out to us to relieve their overcrowding,” Toth said.
There are plans to equip the 25-year-old building with new technology and local foodservice distribution.
The facility accommodates for COVID-19 precautions by taking temperatures and surveying detainee symptoms.
Toth says the reputation for the area is changing with the jail back up and running.
“We are a professional department, and well ran, and we are getting our jail open. You know, with the help of the commissioners and the community and all that, we're going to keep it open," Toth said.
The sheriff says the jail will be in full operation mode starting this week.