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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

New jail plans proceeding

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

(Photo)
The inside of the old Safeway building, which is slated to be demolished to make room for the new jail.

Though all fronts have been relatively quiet recently, plans to build a new Clay County jail in Brazil are still moving forward.

Daryl Andrews, Vice President of the Clay County Commissioners, says that there is much planning to be done yet, but things are moving approximately on schedule.

"If finishing this jail is a nine-inning ball game, we're still in the first," Andrews said. "But everything is moving on-target so far. We've had land acquisition, financing, a lot of other stuff. It's really not a project you can put together overnight.

"It has been, and probably will continue to be, a long, drawn-out process," he continued.

Andrews also said that numbers in a previous issue of the Terre Haute Tribune-Star said that the jail would cost an approximate $13 million. The figure, which came from numbers surrounding the construction of other jails, is the closest he "could come to making an estimate," he said. "But, we're going to try every conceivable way to come in lower than that."

Judge Ernest Yelton commented that Andrews' baseball analogy was good, though planning was probably "in the bottom of the first with no outs."

The jail, a 150-bed facility, will be constructed in the lot containing the defunct Safeway store. Plans to demolish the building were set at the last County Commissioner meeting, and preliminary plans for the new structure will be presented at the next one.

"We acquired the Safeway building maybe five or six years ago," Yelton said. "At the time of purchase, we didn't know exactly what it would be used for. We assumed the jail, but even if not, an opportunity to expand a campus like this only comes around once in a while. It's a large parcel and the County Commissioners were wise in buying it."

Yelton continued to say that he didn't know exactly what the lot cost, though he remembered that the price was a "very attractive proposition for the city."

The old jail will be used for an as-of-yet-unkown purpose, Andrews said. Though an architectural firm, Schenkel Shultz, has been selected for the jail, no construction companies have been selected or even interviewed.

Though many think a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union was the cause for the new jail, Yelton points out that that belief isn't entirely true.

"There were many allegations," he said, "a real laundry list. We reached a consent decree that was very good for the county."

Actions the decree dictated the county must take included: Installation of a modern ventilation system, the construction of a library, a population cap, and segregation of criminals based on their classifications.

The real reason for the construction, Yelton said, was simple deterioration.

"We were under state standards in 1965, when the jail opened," he said. "Those changed, and as years went on the structure deteriorated to a point where we needed a new jail."

Though talks over a new system occurred as early as 1994, the new structure wasn't a large priority in the past.

"We put the project on the very back burner for a long time," Yelton said, "but everyone who looked at our current jail said we needed a new one. Other counties in our situation have procrastinated for so long it got to a point where the Federal Court planned and built the new structure, and that can get very costly.

"We knew Clay County could build the jail or the Federal Court could," he continued, "and I think we can do a good job with it ourselves."



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