Seward Gets State $ For Historic Jail

James L. Seward

February 08, 2006

Herkimer County’s historic former jail, now a local museum, will be saving energy and money as a result of a grant announced today by State Senator James L. Seward, (R-C-I/Milford). Seward said he had secured a grant of $40,000 to help finance an energy efficiency project at the historic jail.

"The historic value of the old Herkimer County Jail will now be enhanced by modern energy-efficiency measures ," said Senator Seward. "The $40,000 grant will help to make needed improvements to the heating and lighting system at the former county jail. Once the project is completed, energy cost savings are expected to be $3,000 annually."

Senator Seward secured the $40,000 grant from Petroleum Overcharge Restitution funds, established from the proceeds of court settlements relating to major oil company violations of federal price controls in the 1970s and 1980s. In New York State, the funds are administered by the New York Power Authority (NYPA).

"This historic building has to be maintained for the next generation of visitors to Herkimer and the entire Mohawk Valley. We applaud Senator Seward for his efforts to assist with the planned energy efficiency project," said Assemblyman Marc Butler (R-C, Newport).

"Herkimer County government strongly supports the museum as part of our shared heritage. I’m very pleased to see Senator Seward secured state funding to keep this project financially attractive," said County Legislator Bernard Z. Peplinski, whom Seward credited for his interest in pushing the project.

The historic structure was built in 1834 as the county jail and served in that capacity until 1977. It is now a museum operated by the Herkimer County Historical Society as part of the village’s "Historic Four Corners." The jail is best known for having once held Chester Gillette, convicted murderer of Grace Brown, whose story was the basis for the 1925 novel, An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser, and the 1951 film, A Place in the Sun, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Cliff.

Energy savings measures at the historic Herkimer County Jail will include lighting upgrades through the replacement of T-12 fluorescent and incandescent lighting with efficient T-8 fluorescent and compact fluorescent lighting, as well as installation of a new gas fired hot water boiler system for more efficient heating of the building.

Statewide, the New York Power Authority’s energy efficiency program has saved more than 860,000 megawatt hours resulting in an annual savings of $92 million.

"As a member of the New York State Senate, I am working to provide relief from increasing energy costs. The senate has approved an energy program that includes a $100 million increase in the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), voted to cap state taxes on gasoline and encouraged energy conservation and alternative energy sources to lessen our dependence on foreign oil. We’ve approved new incentives for energy efficiency to encourage others to engage in energy-saving projects such as those being undertaken by the Herkimer County Jail," Seward said.