FOLEY -- The Benton County Sheriff wants to expand the number of intake cells at the jail to help accommodate an increase in the number of people dealing with mental health issues.

Sheriff Troy Heck says as a result of state hospitals closing over the last decade, he feels more people are left without health care plans which can help keep them from having contact with law enforcement.

Heck says there's been an increase in the number of people dealing with mental health needs who are being booked into the county jail and they need to be segregated from the general population intake area for their protection and the protection of other inmates.

Heck is proposing renovating the jail from the current three intake cells to add five additional cells for a total of eight. The remodel would not affect the 102 beds currently housing inmates.

County Administrator Monty Headley says the proposal is in the discussion stage right now, but they have a draft design and a cost estimate of around $1.1-million.

County commissioners will hold another work-study session on the matter by early December.