Jail expansion effort continues

By Wayne Gates – 

The expansion of the Brown County Jail will go back out for bids this month. The bids will be opened by the Brown County Commissioners on June 26.
This will be a second try to get a contractor to bid under the maximum amount available for the project, which is $3,300,000. Each of the four bids last month exceeded four million dollars.
In response, the commissioners removed one phase of the project, which was the renovation of the sally port area on the south side of the jail.
Brown County Commission President Barry Woodruff said that would free up approximately $800,000 to help get the project below the maximum amount available.
The project will now be done in two phases. Phase one will be a forty bed open dormitory intended for low-level male offenders. The second phase will include an expansion of office and administrative areas to help take care of the extra inmate population.
Woodruff said that if there are no other delays in the project, construction on the dormitory could begin within 60 days, with prisoners able to be housed by Spring of next year.
“We have committed the county to make a jail payment for ten years. We cannot lose sight of that in the community because we are still paying on things like the courthouse roof and the building that houses the prosecutors office and juvenile court,” Woodruff said.
If a viable bid is submitted, the next step would be for construction contracts to be drawn up and the design submitted to the state for approval. After that, local construction permits would have to be approved.
contract drawn up, design submitted for approval to state and permits
Woodruff said that he and the other commissioners appreciate the efforts of other elected officials to keep things running smoothly during the delays in the construction process.
“The judges, the prosecutor, the sheriff’s office and his staff have all worked very hard to keep the inmate population as low as possible. We as commissioners appreciate everyone working together to get through this.”
Brown County Sheriff Gordon Ellis also talked about everyone working together over the past year.
“The process from the beginning to where we have arrived at today has been a collaborative process between the sheriff’s office and the commissioners. I think the final product will provide a much needed jail expansion and the security needed to maintain such a facility. We are pleased to have that as the final outcome.”
Ellis said that when the new dormitory opens, it will bring a much needed change to the county.
“It will meet our needs and also meet the needs of the county as a whole. Right now, it’s very difficult to get misdemeanor offenders from the villages into the jail because of a lack of space. Our jail is designed to hold 68 at maximum capacity. Monday morning (May 28) we were at 80.”
The new round of construction bids will be opened at a special commissioners meeting on June 26.