By Coty Miranda
Post Tribune Correspondent
The Myrick B. Crampton Security Center, better known as the Porter
County Jail, is being readied for the auction block.
Emptied of its 230 men and women prisoners Sunday -who now occupy the
new $37 million, 454-bed Porter County Jail on south Highway 49, the
downtown four-story facility with full basement will be auctioned off to
the highest bidder Wednesday, Nov. 20 at 1 p.m.
Though there is no minimum bid, the Chicago-based Sheldon Good and
Company Auctioneers have established a 'suggested' bid of $25,000. Bidders
must bring along a certified check in that amount the day of the auction
to be considered "serious bidders".
Preparing for the auction, and the three inspection days to be held
prior, four orange-uniformed inmates were transported back to their former
abode late Monday morning to help spiffy up the place.
Although they hauled out enough garbage to overflow two dumpsters, and
spent hours pulling and carrying hundreds of torn, smelly vinyl mattresses
to the jail's first level, there's still plenty to do before the
interested bidders' viewing on Wednesday, Oct. 23, Tuesday, Oct. 29 and
Wednesday, Nov. 6.
Even the advance viewings require an appointment with the Chicago-based
Sheldon Good and Company who have helped unload much larger projects
including the Trump Plaza in Palm Beach.
Sheriff David Reynolds and Sgt. Mike Krawczyk were at the old jail by
10 a.m., inspecting the condition of each cellblock on every floor. "It's
not as bad as I expected," said Reynolds, ignoring the prevalent urine
odor as he walked through individual cells on the fourth floor.
"This is the place where we had some discipline problems the last few
days," he said, skirting a wet area on the peeling gunmetal gray painted
floor that snaked from a toilet surrounded by soggy toilet paper. "Some of
the inmates were flooding their cells."
The badly overcrowded jail that held often found more than 100
prisoners sleeping on mattresses on the cellblock hallways is eerily empty
now, said the Sheriff as he made his rounds. Except for the holding cells,
the majority of the jail is remarkably clean. The remnants of various
paint jobs done in the past 31 years are visible on the peeling walls and
metal jail bars: yellow, maroon, green and a dark pink the Sheriff said he
prefers to call mauve.
The walls also bear the artwork of the hundreds of its most recent
inhabitants. Besides the usual hearts, crosses, cartoon characters and
hate/love graffiti are finely drawn portraits of Jesus and unknown loved
ones. Cell number 479 included a pen rendition of a full-size refrigerator
- its door open to reveal shelves chock-full of Kool-aid, condiments and
beer. Drawn on the opposite wall was a full-size stove. "Imagine being in
here a year," mused the Sheriff looking over the imaginary kitchen.
It's expected the jail cleaning could take up to two weeks said Sgt.
Krawczyk. "But we'll have it done with time to spare," he said.
National interest in the auction of the downtown jail has been
surprisingly strong, whetted, in part by the nationwide advertising placed
by the auction company in periodicals and newspapers like the Wall Street
"We've been receiving calls from the east coast to the west coast, and
from people with a strong interest," said Commissioner Larry Sheets,
D-Center Township, adding the calls are referred on to the Chicago
company. "I'm really surprised at the interest. I just hope it bears
Sheriff Reynolds said he is aware a federal prison has expressed
interest in the jail. "It would house special need prisoners, possibly
some with medical problems," he said, admitting that news was received
The open auction will be held at 1 p.m. Nov. 20 in the County
Commissioner's room at the Porter County Administration Center. The
commissioners contracted with the national real estate, auction and
consulting firm after they established it would cost between $300,000 to
$400,000 to raze the building. Local non-profits withdrew their stated
interest after learning utilities at the Franklin Street edifice ran
$10,000 a month.