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Two town hall meetings have been held in Ava. Now folks in the Squires area will have an opportunity to visit with the architects, the county commissioners and Sheriff Chris Degase regarding the new jail and justice center proposed for Douglas County.
The town hall meeting will be held next Tuesday night, Oct. 19, beginning at 6 pm., and will be held at the Squires Community Center.
Those attending will have an opportunity to review and discuss the plans, and ask questions about the facility and the tax measures that will be on the Nov. 2 ballot to fund the project.
To recap information about the proposed facility that would be funded by a law enforcement sales tax, the county’s current jail has 21 beds and is located in the same building with the Sheriff’s Office.
The new facility would comply with federal standards and would replace the current, outdated jail.
Sheriff Degase says the county’s lack of space currently results in an average of three inmates per month being housed in other jails, at a cost to the county of more than $4,000 per month.
Degase says that, with a new jail, the county could not only house all of its own prisoners, but could feasibly also house eight to 10 prisoners per month for other counties, resulting in potential revenue for the county in the amount of up to $13,500 per month, rather than paying that money out.
Architects have said they will encourage the use of local contractors and local workers where possible, to stimulate the local economy during the 12-14 month construction period, and once the new facility is completed, some 15 new, permanent jobs would be created as jailers, cooks, supervisors, and support personnel.
The proposed facility would include a 40- to 48-bed jail, along with the control room and dispatch center all on the bottom floor, with the court rooms, judicial offices and sheriff’s office on the top floor.
The facility would be built on the lot just east of the current jail, which is owned by the county, and would utilize the natural slope of the lot to give both floors a ground-floor entrance.
The facility is designed by the firm of Goldberg, Sullivan & McCrerey, of St. Joseph, which is one of the nation’s leading correctional planners in determining what kind and size jail should be built to best serve the community for long-term benefits.
To fund the project, the county is proposing two separate one-half cent sales tax measures that will be on the Nov. 2 ballot.
One of the half-cent taxes would be used to construct the facility and the second half-cent tax would be used for staffing and operations.
Each one-half cent would generate approximately $450,000 annually.
According to the way it is presented, the one-half cent tax for the construction of the facility would be reduced to one-eighth cent to cover maintenance when the building is paid for. The other one-half cent for operations would be ongoing with no sunset clause attached.