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Jail planning committee holds first meeting

Phase two of the future of the Pierce County Jail started Wednesday with the first meeting of the Ad Hoc Jail Planning Committee.

The goal of the committee is to obtain a more solid estimate based upon the ad hoc committee’s recommendation, which called for a new stand-alone jail and sheriff’s department, and remodel the existing jail and sheriff’s department into a justice center.

The three members tasked with the assignment are County Board Supervisors Dale Auckland, Jim Ross and Jerry Kosin. They spent 90 minutes Wednesday laying out their future.

It was decided they would meet bi-weekly for the first couple of months, with a completion goal of January.

The ad hoc committee which met earlier this year recommended building an estimated 50-bed jail, along with the sheriff’s department, for a projected cost of $6-$7 million.

Sheriff Nancy Hove, when asked, told the Planning Committee if they went with 50 beds (or around that figure), the county would still have to house out prisoners due to classification of inmates.

Other parameters the committee deemed important: the building has to be one story, be around 27,000-square-feet and be built on enough space so the county could have the ability to expand (Hove reminded the committee the new building has to pass state and national standards).

“Our operating costs would go through the roof if it’s two stories,” Administrative Coordinator JoAnn Miller said.

After discussing whether to open the bid to any engineering/architectural firm, it was decided they would send the bids to Cedar Corporation, Ayres and Associates, KKE, Potter Lawson and Venture Capital with the parameters mentioned, along with submitting two to four designs.

The Sept. 18 meeting will go over potential land options which would fit the parameters within the Village of Ellsworth--state law requires the jail to be built within the county seat.

“We don’t want to go and buy anything unless we have to,” Auckland said. Rumored sites that already are county property include the vacant lots next to the Blue Building and property near the highway department.

Jason Schulte

Jason Schulte is a reporter for the New Richmond News since February 2015. Prior to that he spent eight years at the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth. His duties with the News will include covering news out of Hammond and Roberts along with action from St. Croix County court system. He lives in Roberts. 

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