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 June 14th, 2013  
St. Lucie County Sheriff Mascara's garage mechanics and jail work crew convert aging, government surplus bus into modern, well equipped jail transportation bus
Talented St. Lucie County Sheriff's garage mechanics and a closely supervised jail inmate work crew have converted a 21-year-old, 40-foot government surplus bus into a modern, well-equipped jail transport vehicle, according to St. Lucie County Sheriff Ken J. Mascara.

"We got the Blue Bird diesel-engine-powered bus from government surplus for a $3,000 transfer fee," said Sheriff Mascara, "and we installed a $6,500 wheelchair lift to accommodate handicapped jail inmates. That's less than $10,000. A new bus equipped like this would cost more than $150,000. The Sheriff's Office was able to put a jail transport bus into service for a fraction of that amount."

In addition, Sheriff Mascara said the wheelchair-lift-equipped bus will save money because it will no longer be necessary to pay a private ambulance service to transport handicapped jail inmates to and from medical and court appointments.

"My goal and that of my administration is to find alternatives to using taxpayers' dollars for capital outlay, and the jail bus project is a prime example of that," Sheriff Mascara said.

Sheriff's officials are registered with the U.S. Bureau of Federal Property Assistance and found the bus using the bureau's online research tools. Sheriff's staff members traveled to Starke, northeast of Gainesville, and drove the bus to Fort Pierce 10 months ago.

The jail inmate work crew designed, fabricated and installed security grates on the windows, confinement doors and other security equipment in the interior of the bus, modified the seats to accommodate the security equipment. "This was a complete custom installation," Sheriff Mascara said.

Other improvements included securely covering the heater and air conditioning units so they can't be tampered with.

"All the design work, fabrication, repairs, security modifications, installation of the wheelchair lift, painting and mechanical improvements were done in-house," Sheriff Mascara said. "The result was a huge savings to taxpayers."

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