MARINETTE — The removal of the former jail cells from the second floor of the former Marinette County Law Enforcement Center (LEC) on Ella Court Street, that has been mostly empty for the past 15 years since a new facility was opened on University Drive, could take place this winter.

Facilities Director Marty Keyport told the county board’s Infrastructure Committee on Wednesday that he hopes to have a RFP (request for bid proposals) ready to present at the committee’s December meeting. County Administrator John Lefebvre included $360,000 in the 2019 county budget for removal of steel from the former jail and replacement of the building’s roof and HVAC system.

“That’s something we’d like to get moving on,” Keyport said. “That stuff’s got to go. It’s not magically going to turn back into a jail.”

Keyport has said in the past that it’s difficult to envision how much space is available in the two-story building without the cells being removed. He said he’s working with Mike Dura of Riverview Architecture of Porterfield on some plans for the building and determining how much space is available.

“Right now it’s hard to get a visualization of what could be there,” he said. “We’re looking at how much we can leave in there rather than just going in and demoing the entire first and second floors. The first phase would be to remove those metal parts that are not going to be reused. We’re going to get rid of all that metal, the jail stuff.”

Keyport said “It’s a great building, it’s a real strong building.”

Possible uses for the building that have been talked about in the past include the City of Marinette relocating its offices and police department to it and it being used to solve some of the county’s problems, such as more space for the the Child Support Agency, and to relocate the courts and their offices to beef up security.

“I appreciate that we actually feel like we’re moving on this thing,” Supervisor Gilbert Engel said. “It’s been sitting (mostly empty) for I don’t know how many years. I actually feel like something is going to happen.”

“John and I discuss it regularly and we are both in agreement that this is the time (to do something),” Keyport said. “We’ve got money in the budget to do work over there. It’s well past time to get moving over there.”

Lefebvre said he believed the $360,000 in the 2019 will be “enough to definitely remove the steel without a problem.”

■ Also at Wedneday’s Infrastructure Committee meeting, Keyport said a new Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) unit will be installed next Tuesday night as part of Marinette County’s efforts to resolve the power interruption problems that have occurred at its current Law Enforcement Center, which includes the sheriff’s offices, county jail and dispatch center.

“We’ve got our work cut out for us next Tuesday night,” Keyport told the Infrastructure Committee. “It’s going to be an all-nighter. We’re going to start around 8 o’clock. We like to do things at the jail when there’s minimal movement of the personnel in there. Once 10 o’clock comes around, everybody is locked down.”

Replacement of the 16-year-old UPS is part of the multiple approach the county is taking in trying to resolve the power interruption problems at the LEC. Also planned are the installation of additional hardware on the generator to allow it to be monitored more easily and from other locations, and possibly bringing power from a second source into the building.

Keyport said he has been working with Information Services Director Kevin Solway, the staff at the jail and Communications Director Kirsten Burmeister to prepare for the installation of the UPS, which he said could take several hours. The generator feeds the UPS, so when the power goes out the UPS continues to run all the items at the LEC for as much battery time as it has.

He said while the old UPS is being dismantled, items at the LEC that currently run through it, will be rerouted to a portable generator, explaining that when you’re doing a UPS replacement you lose the option to bypass to the permanent generator.

“We’re going to go in and set up a temporary generator while we are moving the old UPS to power those items that are currently powered through that UPS,” Keyport explained. “Those items that are currently powered through the UPS we’re going to power with a portable generator rather then hooking something up to our installed permanent generator.”

Keyport said he’s been coordinating with the jail and dispatch administration “to make sure we’re all on the same page,” including during the switch back to the permanent generator and new UPS.

“We’ve got everybody on board and cooperating,” he said. I’m going to work with Kevin and his staff to bring the equipment down and shut everything down so when we flip that power, we don’t have the issues the UPS is there to protect. Dispatch is going to to have to swap over to its backup, which is in Oconto County.”

He said “you try to anticipate the glitches, but you’re not going to catch them all. There’ll be a couple of them.”

Keyport described the former UPS as “a big bank of batteries.”

“We’ve got a couple thousand pounds of batteries in this thing,” he explained. “We’re going to stack these batteries on a pallet and probably haul them back to the loading dock.”