Pulaski County Detention Center will lease-to-own the building, which will be used as a technical training facility for inmates
In an effort to be a state leader in re-entry programs, change the lives of those who are incarcerated and improve workforce opportunities, the Somerset-Pulaski Economic Development Authority (SPEDA) has purchased a warehouse from Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital (LCRH) that will be used as a technical training facility for inmates.
The Pulaski County Detention Center (PCDC) will lease the 6,000-square-foot building on Thannoli Drive, which sits adjacent to the jail on hospital property, until the $40,000 purchase price has been made whole. At that time, SPEDA will donate the building to the detention center, SPEDA President and CEO Chris Girdler said. Though the building is structurally sound, significant remodeling is needed — work PCDC inmates will complete.
“While we all agree jail should be a deterrent, we should also agree that we should train these folks for a better life when they get out,” Girdler said. “The Pulaski County Detention Center is already providing excellent training opportunities for inmates and having this building will only enhance this effort. There is not another economic development authority or community in the Commonwealth of Kentucky doing this kind of work so collaboratively nor at this high of a level. It is truly a groundbreaking program.”
Girdler said LCRH CEO Robert Parker has been an excellent advocate for SPEDA and the detention center in negotiating an affordable purchase price for the building with the hospital’s parent company, LifePoint Health.
“Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital is a wonderful asset and community partner,” Girdler said. “Their team does so much behind the scenes that the public rarely sees, and this is yet another example of their dedication. We are grateful for the work our hospital and LifePoint Health contribute to Somerset and Pulaski County on a daily basis.”
Parker said the hospital team is proud to be able to facilitate this purchase for SPEDA and appreciates the effort of all involved to undertake a project of this kind.
“Improving the health of our community, including the creation of new opportunities for all of its citizens, ensures a vibrant and qualified workforce for our future,” Parker said.
PCDC launched its inmate re-entry program in November 2019, a partnership with SPEDA and Somerset Community College to offer soft skills and technical training to inmates so they are better prepared to enter the workforce upon their release. Inmates can earn a welding certificate through the program and be placed in a job with one of several local businesses that participate.
Pulaski County Jailer Anthony McCollum said an additional facility is needed to grow the program.
“This building was perfect for us,” McCollum said to SPEDA board members at their Sept. 2 meeting. “We all felt it was good for the detention center, good for SPEDA and good for the community. It is a win-win for everyone.”
McCollum said because of SPEDA’s help to expand the program by purchasing this facility, PCDC can build a re-entry program that is a leading example throughout the state.
“As we all know, one entity can’t do that alone,” McCollum said. “It’s going to take us working together to get this done.”
Collaboration has been a renewed focus for SPEDA since its creation, Somerset Mayor Alan Keck said, and has been the key to so many significant achievements in such a short period of time.
“Our holistic approach to economic development is at its core about collaboration, working together to create opportunities for people of all walks of life,” Keck said. “We cannot forget to provide those opportunities for inmates who will be re-entering our community. One of the keys to recovery is a focus on transition. Providing resources to assist in this transition is critical, and I applaud the detention center for leading this effort.”
Pulaski County Judge-Executive Steve Kelley said the purchase of this property is a win for workforce development efforts in Pulaski County, one of SPEDA’s pillars of economic development.
“This partnership will allow us to lead the state forward again in rehabilitating our inmate population to prepare them for re-entry into the workforce,” Kelley said. “Jailer McCullom is blazing new ground with this innovative approach to inmate training. My special thanks to LCRH for embracing this vision, and helping us continue to make Pulaski County a better place for all of us.”