Jail, DL Library forced to use crisis heating
A heating unit failure Thanksgiving evening has forced emergency measures at the Becker County Jail and Detroit Lakes Public Library. Sheriff Tim Gordon said a condenser on one of two rooftop heating units failed, causing a lack of heat in a port...
A heating unit failure Thanksgiving evening has forced emergency measures at the Becker County Jail and Detroit Lakes Public Library.
Sheriff Tim Gordon said a condenser on one of two rooftop heating units failed, causing a lack of heat in a portion of the jail.
That also affected the library, which is across the street from the jail.
A number of years ago, the county commissioners had a wood chip boiler furnace installed in the courthouse as part of an energy conservation measure to utilize locally-produced renewable fuel products.
Because the wood chip boiler produced surplus steam, which is used to heat the courthouse, the county also supplied steam to the library via underground pipes.
Some of the prisoners were moved to another location in the jail until temporary heating was put in place that night by Gordon and courthouse maintenance supervisor Dan Johnson.
Several days later, Gordon rented a diesel-powered generator from a Fargo industrial equipment dealer. The generator manufactures heat, which was then piped into the jail 24 hours a day.
"We were able to survive with ceramic heaters strategically located. But when the temperatures were forecast for subzero, Dan lined up this generator," said Gordon.
That didn't solve the library's dilemma, however. The library was forced to close, but later reopened under shorter hours of 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.
Head library Mary Haney said several electrical furnaces were temporarily installed, but didn't provide enough heat. A propane furnace was added Wednesday.
Haney said the library will continue with the interim hours until the building is sufficiently warmed so it is comfortable for patrons and employees.
Prior to the temporary measures, evening temperatures inside the library dipped below 50 degrees., according to Detroit Lakes city administrator Rich Grabow.
"We actually feel it is warmer today (Thursday), but (the propane furnace) has gone out a couple times, so I want to be assured it will be warm enough before going back to regular hours," said Haney.
The failed condenser is in a heating unit installed 15 years ago. Gordon said the other heating unit was installed 20 years ago.
Gordon said the heating unit vendor is searching for a replacement condenser, but may ultimately have to have a new one made. Gordon said it could be two weeks or longer before the replacement is available and installed. The estimated replacement cost is $15,000 to $20,000.
The City of Detroit Lakes is paying for the temporary heating measures at the library. Grabow said the city is considering converting the library to off-peak electric heat because of this problem.
Gordon said the generator rental cost is $750 a week, plus the diesel fuel. Twenty or more prisoners, including six federal prisoners, could have been boarded in other counties, but Gordon said that would have cost the county $1,100 a day. In addition, he said the county would have lost $300 a day it now receives for the federal prisoners.
Gordon said there would have also been the additional expense of deputies transporting prisoners to and from Becker County and those jails.