SALISBURY -- Rowan County authorities are preparing to open a satellite jail.
The jail will supplement already existing operations in downtown Salisbury where overcrowding has been an issue for years.
The new Rowan County Satellite Jail officially opened Monday morning, easing the situation at the main jail in downtown Salisbury.
"Right now we are considered overcrowded," said Sgt. Joseph Milem.
Milem will be the new facility's commander. He said the jail will start with just 40 inmates, 10 in each of the four dormitory units.
Good news for staff operating the county's downtown jail.
"That takes a lot of stress off that staff and they've been operating for a long time way overworked, to be honest," said Sheriff Kevin Auten.
The $6-million facility was funded by the county sales tax. Milem said, however, it will save the county hundreds of thousands each year.
"For many many years Montgomery county has helped us out," he said. It cost Rowan County taxpayers $2,000 a day to house inmates in neighboring Montgomery County. The new jail could help bring in revenue.
"We are very well prepared for this to reach full capacity," said Milem.
But he said residents can rest easy. The 29,000-square-foot facility is set back off Grace Church Road, out of sight, and inmates here will have minimal movement.
"It is designed where the inmates do everything inside this dorm," said Milem.
Besides sleeping and eating, access to bathrooms, an enclosed rec area and visitation rooms, are all in one place. They can even watch TV there. It all helps increase security and reduce interaction with staff.
"We're not trying to make it the Holiday Inn but we are trying to make it better on the staff," said Auten.
For now, only men charged with non-violent crimes will be housed here. Further expansion will be assessed in five years.
Twenty new deputy positions were created as a result of the new facility.
The Rowan County Sheriff's Office will host an open house for all members of the community to go and have a look for themselves on Sunday, July 8 at 1 p.m. The jail is located at 400 Grace Church Road in Salisbury.