BV Jail task force eyes a new plan

Monday, September 8, 2003

Existing space, or a new building?

Buena Vista County Sheriff Chuck Eddy and Jail Administrator Don McClure presented their wish list for a new jail to the Jail Task Force Committee Friday, and the group is coming closer to formulating a plan of attack.

The task force also evaluated the use of space in the Buena Vista County Courthouse and identified some areas that contained excess storage material.

The ideal jail, drawn up by McClure, would contain a central control room from which a jailer could keep all prisoners in sight, instead of using video monitors.

"Cameras have a lot of blind spots," McClure said.

The proposed diagram would hold approximately 40 inmates and would add two interview rooms that could also be used as detox tanks. The jail cells would be sight and sound separated so that the jail could house females and juveniles, which it is not equipped to do now. They would also replace bars with windows.

"It would cut out the sound which is a big problem," McClure said.

However, the plan was not drawn to scale and did not contain measurements, so whether or not the proposed jail would fit in the existing area or needed a new building could not be determined at this time.

Task Force member, Rolf Masbo, using figures distributed to the committee at the last meeting, determined that transportation of female and juvenile prisoners is costing the County approximately $100,000 in travel miles and wages a year. While the deputies transporting prisoners would be paid no matter what they are doing, Masbo said "From an efficiency standpoint you can find other stuff for them to do."

However, the construction model to build a new facility or remodel the current facility must payback its cost. Over a 20 year time frame, eliminating transportation could save approximately $2 million, though not all costs are added into this figure.

"You don't get much done for $2 million in construction," Masbo said.

The Task Force is leaning towards keeping the jail in the basement of the courthouse and moving the entire sheriff's department into the basement. The cost and the means to do that are yet to be determined. And a final proposal is far from set.

To fund the project, Masbo said the public would more than likely reject another bond issue, especially with the school and hospital both conducting major projects funded by public bonds. The task force is going to focus on "What can we do absent of going to the public."

Chairman of the Task Force, Bill Strawn, said that after an evaluation of the Courthouse, some areas of excess storage were identified, such as one board room that was originally designed as a storage closet. It was also discovered that the Clerk's office has records and equipment stored in nine separate locations.

The next step is to determine their "capacity to manipulate" the storage areas and to use them as efficiently as possible.

The task force will meet again on Oct. 2. They will make a final recommendation to the BV County Board of Supervisors next spring.

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