Marshall County Commissioners Send Proposed New Jail Out For Bid

By Bruce Dierking – KNDY News

Cost estimates for a proposed new Marshall County jail now top $5 million dollars. That construction summary was presented by Lloyd Builders at last week’s county commissioners meeting, where proposed changes were reviewed with the architect and Sheriff Dan Hargrave. In addition to that $5 million estimate, the construction manager would be due a 4.5% fee, and the architect an 8.5% fee, as well as soft costs, and possible bond fees that realistically could top another million dollars. The Sheriff, builder, and architect requested that the Board move forward with putting the project out for bids. This would still not commit the Board to going forward with jail construction but will give more finalized costs of the project.

Commissioner Barb Kickhaefer expressed concern with the size of the jail being proposed that will set the County up in the future to contract and house prisoners from other facilities. This is something the Board does not want to pursue. Sheriff Hargrave explained that the 36-bed facility will give him the opportunity to house inmates in appropriate security sections and maximum-security inmates do not need to be exposed to general population. Hargrave feels that the focus should be on the safety for corrections officers, public and other inmates not the number of beds. The architect said that prisons are full and speculation is that housing the inmates will trickle down to the local level to serve out their sentences and this would better equip Marshall County to accommodate these inmates and not have to pay to outsource any holdings to other facilities.

While encouraging commissioners to move forward with going out for bids now to get a better idea as to cost estimates, the Sheriff suggested at this point it might be best to put the project on hold until Spring. This would allow time to hold public meetings to let the community see what and why this expansion needs to happen. Commissioners Keith Bramhall and Kickhaefer reiterated concerns about future commissioners and/or Sheriff housing outside prisoners for income and the fact that the Board really has no control over that. Hargrave hopes that any future decisions will continue to keep the safety of the employees and community in mind and continue to not go that route, but there is no guarantee. Steve Boyda of Marysville said that Riley County tried to save money when they built their new jail and then when they needed to expand, the cost was much larger than if they would of just done it in the first place.

Barb Kickhaefer asked for time to see a log of the number of inmates that have passed through the facility the past few months. Her understanding was that the average daily number the past three months was 8 prisoners. That request was dismissed as David Baier made a motion to move forward with going out for bids, and the action was approved unanimously. The bid process will take about 30 days. Once bid out, there still remains no obligation to go forward. Timing for the bids is reportedly good now as contractors are finishing up projects and lining up future work.