The Delaware County commissioners last week renewed a contract for health services at the county jail.

The Delaware County commissioners last week renewed a contract for health services at the county jail.

Jail supervisor Christopher Smith asked the commissioners Thursday to approve a contract with Health Professionals Ltd. for health care services for detainees held at the jail. Smith said the new contract is "basically the same" as the previous contract, but with "a few more hours for mental health services and stronger language on what (medical) services inmates will receive."

Commissioner Ken O'Brien said he was pleased with the increase in mental health services.

"I believe it's important to meet the mental health needs of inmates, as our goal is to not have them return," he said.

The jail was expanded in 2005, when a $6.4-million, 96-bed addition opened. A second-story dormitory, that also would hold 96 beds, was built but never equipped or opened.

In February of this year, sheriff Walter Davis III asked the commissioners to let his department proceed with the completion of the addition in order to contract with the U.S. Marshal's Office and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to house nonviolent offenders.

Davis said the money earned would go toward paying for the jail expansion.

Facilities supervisor Jon Melvin said after the commissioners' meeting the nine companies that submitted proposals to finish the second floor have been ranked; the top three are Shremshock Architects, MKC Associates and KZF Designs.

Melvin said the ranking will allow the county to move down the list should negotiations with the top firm prove unsuccessful.

New county director of economic development Gus Comstock introduced the topic of bringing fiber optics to the county.

"If we want to attract the best businesses to town, we need fiber, fiber, fiber," Comstock told commissioners. "Fiber's what's going to draw the best businesses."

The county has been examining the possibility of fiber optics as a tool to increase the number of businesses interested in Delaware County.

Comstock also told the commissioners that Columbus Zoo and Aquarium officials are asking for half of the estimated $15,000 it would cost to study the feasibility of building a hotel in connection with the zoo.

During the commissioners meeting, the board approved a new contract giving raises to emergency medical services personnel.

The employees, represented by the International Association of EMTs and Paramedics and Local R7-11, will receive a 1-percent raise retroactive to Jan. 1 and a 2-percent raise for 2010 and 2011 despite a countywide salary freeze for 2009.

Union workers with both the EMS department and the sheriff's office have received raises recently through collective bargaining agreements.

Also during the meeting, the commissioners voted to promote Eric Burgess to EMS captain, effective April 22; approved the expenditure of $138,000 for a new ambulance; approved a $20,000 purchase order for postage for county mailings and another for $334 for county employee travel expenses; and approved a $225,000 payment to the Delaware city attorney for reimbursement of prosecution in Delaware Municipal Court, which serves the entire county.