Is a new jail in the county’s future?
By Sandy Bond
“If you build it, they will come,” might sum up what the future could be if Walworth County renovates the older section of the jail, upgrades the “new” addition that was completed in 1999, and builds another addition.
This concept was explored at a presentation by Managing Director David Cruseturner of Brennan Management Services, Construction Management of Little Rock, Ark., and Director of Sales and Marketing James Brown, of Southern Folger, Detention Equipment Company, San Antonio, Texas, at the Tuesday, Aug. 21, meeting of Walworth County Commissioners. Chief Deputy and Jail Administrator Josh Boll had been authorized to extend the invitation to Cruseturner and Brown.
The issue has been of concern to Boll because of the possibility of injury and resulting litigation if a correctional officer, inmate, or private citizen were injured or killed and the county was discovered to be at fault. The damages that could be awarded in this hypothetical scenario might be much more costly than the bricks and mortar, they told the commission. Crime may also escalate because of the influx of jobs in western North Dakota caused by the “oil boom” by those traveling county roads and highways to and from places of employment and their homes in other states.
The firm’s custom designs the structures so that they blend into the community, for example, a jail would not look like a jail. Modifications could be made to enable inmates and correctional officers to travel between the jail and the courthouse in inclement weather without leaving the building, in addition to comfort, it would facilitate security. The older section might be used for a recreation unit for inmates or to expand the kitchen. Revenue enhancers could include video conferencing visits. Housing those incarcerated by the Federal Marshall’s Office and others from adjoining counties or states could help pay for the building and renovations. The cost of the “study” by these two companies could cost approximately $20,000 plus other related expenses. The voters will make the ultimate decision.
In other business, commissioners:
• Authorized the allocation of federal grant monies to pay for narrow banding of law enforcement radios in the amount of $1,150.00
• Heard Walworth County Treasurer Chuck Hanson say that, in regard to taxes owed by Zane Schulz addressed at a previous meeting, he is current in the payments he negotiated with commissioners earlier this year. Hanson reported that Schulz owes $8,215.25 and that his taxes run approximately $1,800 per year. Commissioners are concerned that the payment plan he has negotiated at $200 per month will not allow him to get ahead very soon.
• Authorized landfill supervisor Ryan Badten to schedule an acceptance of waste tires for commercial dealers at a reduced rate of $200 per ton. He was also authorized to request state’s attorney Chris Jansen draft a liability waiver that could be signed if those patronizing the landfill agree to accept help from landfill employees. Badten was also authorized to look for an older four-wheel drive pickup for recycling purposes.
• Found that in the consensus of department heads polled, a time clock is more of an inconvenience for them; they are already accountable for their assistants’ hours. Sheriff Duane Mohr reported that the jail uses a different time clock and it has always worked well for them.
• Heard Hanson report that his office would soon be able to accept debit/credit cards at no cost to the county depending on which credit card machine the county chooses. All credit card convenience fees will be added to the consumer’s bill.
• Heard Mohr request an additional $12,000 in his budget to allow the department to purchase a newer Crown Victoria.
• Heard Boll report that a recent jailer applicant, Tessa Grenz, had not worked out, as she and the department could not reach a mutual understanding on hours she was to serve.
• Heard Commissioner Harold Forbes say the repairs to the window air conditioner in the Register of Deeds office is $1,600. Forbes also agreed to contact the two roofing companies, Weathercrafters and Custom Roofing, to request current bids to repair and make modifications to the courthouse roof. In addition, bids will be solicited by advertisements in the two official newspapers.