Some of Twin Falls County's juvenile offenders may soon move from a local motel to larger accommodations at the county fairgrounds in nearby Filer.

The Twin Falls County Fair Board voted unanimously Monday to open the Flowers and Produce Building at the fairgrounds to male juveniles until a permanent regional detention center opens sometime next year.Female offenders would still be held at the Twin Falls Econo Lodge.

If the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare approves the plan, the building could begin housing juveniles by June 1, Twin Falls County Commissioner Norma Blass said.

She said the new site holds a number of advantages.

At roughly 3,600 square feet, the half of the produce building the county plans to use will be much bigger than the motel suites. The extra space will be partitioned off for rec-reation, eating and visiting areas, Blass said.

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Detainees also will have access to a fenced yard for outdoor activities, she said. Juveniles being held at the motel have little opportunity for rec-reation beyond watching television and playing cards. They are given the opportunity to walk in the motel courtyard daily, and officers take them to classes at the county's juvenile probation office.

The county has been looking for a temporary place to house problem juveniles since the Southern Idaho Youth Center in Jerome closed in September and forced officials to use local motel rooms as holding cells.

Fire codes have hampered efforts to find a better solution, Blass said.

Renovations, which will include installation of a heating system, will cost about $10,000, Blass said. The county currently pays $22-$29 per room for each day at the Econo Lodge.

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