It's cold in the old Payson jail.
So cold, in fact, that the shivering members of the Gila County Sheriff's Posse have begun looking for ways to refurbish their old meeting place.
"It was built back in 1935," said Posse member Pete Malavenda. "It's got cement walls and a cement floor. No insulation at all. At our last meeting, it was only 50 degrees inside the building."
The Sheriff's Posse is made up of men and women who volunteer their time to assist the department, and at times the Payson Police Department. They help out with traffic control for functions and accidents, fund-raising for charities, transporting prisoners to the Globe jail, security civic functions, plus do a variety of other duties.
Posse members pay $25 in dues each year, and use their own vehicles, purchase most of their own uniforms, and are normally not reimbursed for any expenses.
Years ago, Posse members met at the old county maintenance yard. That meeting place was taken away from them when the county maintenance department needed to expand.
Gila County officials decided to lease the old jail, which is on McLane Road near Main Street, to the posse on an annual basis.
"We've only been meeting there about a year," said Posse member Dora Dawes.
Despite the installation of a couple of baseboard heaters, the chilly old jail was still too cold for comfort. "When it got too bad, we'd meet at the Diamond Star Fire Department," Dawes said.
The Posse is hoping to shake off the cold this year with a little help from their friends.
State Heating and Air Conditioning has already stepped forward to make a partial donation of a heating unit, with free installation. Hogue's Carpet Warehouse has donated new carpeting. Dennis Stutzman Backhoe and Gary Sexton Trucking have graded the parking lot and hauled away seven trucks of dirt.
"We're still looking for someone to help us out with insulating the attic, and blacktop for the parking lot" Malavenda said.
Members are also hoping to install a retaining wall around the north and west sides of the building; fix the rain gutters; construct a steel post guard around the gas meter; and install a new, more secure front door.
"Anything anyone can do to help us would be greatly appreciated," Malavenda said. To offer your materials or services, call Malavenda at 474-3704.
The Posse is also always looking for new members to join its efforts. "We're looking for workers, not shirkers," said member Art Stone.
Posse meetings are held at 7 p.m. the second Tuesday of each month at the old jail on South McLane Road.