The Clay County Commissioners held their monthly meeting yesterday. The four hour meeting clarified (and ended) many topics from last month's meeting, and brought many new ones to the front.
The biggest piece of news to come from the meeting was from Dave Sholl, a representative of architectural firm Shenkle Schultz. Construction of a new jail came a step closer to reality with his presentation, which showcased a tentative layout for the structure.
The jail is set to be built south of the courthouse, where the old IGA now sits.
Sholl put together a 20-minute presentation, giving spectators and officials a chance to take a virtual walkthrough of the jail site. He started with the outside of the structure, which is one story in the front and two in the rear.
"This design is generous," he said. "It allows for expansion of nearly all the aspects of the jail. The goal with this design was to not landlock any one part of the jail itself."
Sholl went on to say that the jail would have an approximate 130 parking spaces, which would be used to accommodate not only the jail, but the courthouse and the old jail as well. No concrete plans have been made for usage of the old jail.
The inside of the structure is a 154-bed unit, able to house 32 maximum-security inmates, 80 medium-security occupants, and 42 low-security (including work-release) residents.
Rough figures from Sholl's presentation estimated the jail to cost between $9.16 and 9.38 million.
The computer-generated walkthrough showed a realistic view of the jail's insides, complete with guards and inmates. The two-story inmate housing section will feature a suspended guard station in the middle that will give the officer on duty a clear view of all goings-on in the cell blocks.
"We're looking at a good jail," Sholl said. "Not something to be ashamed of... a good, solid civil building."
Sholl followed up his session by taking a question from Comissioner Daryl Andrews. Andrews asked if there were any numbers that showed an increase in crime because of prison construction, to which Sholl gave a clear "no."
"A study by the National Institute of Corrections says that there is no increase incrime and no decrease in property value in a town because of a new facility," he said. "In fact, in some towns, property value actually went up because of the safety associated with a jail or prison."
Sholl also said that his company hopes for a groundbreaking ceremony next spring, assuming everything goes as planned.
In other business, the commissioners discussed:
- Bid proposals for the County Highway Department. The proposal, which gave more money to the department for materials like rocks, was passed.
- The new courthouse security system. Brian Vanderburg, who was asked last month to come back with a rough estimate on costs, said the variables were too many to pinpoint what the cost would be without a more specific inquiry from the commissioners.
"It will be about $12,000 for a very high-end unit," Vanderburg said, citing the cost to put a card-reading key system on every ouside door of the courthouse. "There are unlimited types of systems here."
After some more discussion about lock placement and types, the comissioners decided to ask for a quote on a system that included two card readers and "secure locks all around," as put by Andrews.
- Moving the fiber optic cable between the jail and courthouse to a new location. Its current path does not work with placement of the new jail. Jacobs Telephone Contractors quoted the price for the job at $8,479 dollars. The commissioners decided to table the item until a later meeting to track down some more prices.
- An update on demolition of the old IGA. President David Parr said that "the good news was that the building had no asbestos, but the bad news is the mold." He continued, saying that there are eight types of dangerous mold found in the building and on county books left there. He finally said that Patriot Construction quoted a price of $100,000 to $150,000 to remove mold from the books.
"And that doesn't even guarantee that there will be text on the pages when they're done," Parr said. "There are hundreds upon hundreds of books down there and they'll all need to be extracted and cleaned page-by-page."
After discussion, the commissioners decided to look for alternatives to the current answer. Parr also said that he would check with the state to see if the books could simply be disposed of as a last resort.
Other items discussed included the use of Nextel cellular technology by the county and a talk with Faril Ward of Trans Care Ambulance. The next meeting will be held on Dec. 1 at 9 a.m. in the County Courthouse. The public is invited.