County hears estimates on cost of jail projects

The architect?s estimates presented Monday at the Marion County Commission meeting were $5,074,731 to remodel the current county jail into an 11-bed facility acceptable to future state demands, or $7,508,285 to build a 75- to 78-bed new jail.

Commissioner Dan Holub noted the cost of land is not included in either estimate from Tony Rangel of Law/Kingdon Inc., Wichita.

In the case of the old jail, there would be no land cost, he said, because it would remain on the courthouse campus. Loca?tion for a new jail may be free or at reduced price from the City of Marion, he said.

Sheriff Lee Becker said if the public is to understand the advantage of a new jail, the commission will have to make immediate educational efforts or a bond election will fail in Novem?ber.

Rangel recommended planning for public meetings already in May with presentation of a clear plan. He said the commissioners should consult with legal and bond counsels.

Becker said even a remodeled jail would be inadequate for the current situation with 15 inmates in the jail. Rangel said the 11-bed remodeled jail actually would cost $3,196,011, but the addition of a new 911-emergency operations center would raise the cost an additional $1,878,720.

At a new jail, he said, the 911 communications center would be placed underground to shield it from disaster.

Rangel said the new jail would meet American Correc?tional Association standards and state codes while the remodeled jail could still have liability issues with inmates and detention officers.

He listed additional detention officers and increases in utility and operations expenses as associated costs for a new jail. Issues for such a facility might include remoteness from the courthouse, and providing a market for housing prisoners from other counties, he said.

Other costs at a remodeled jail, he said, could include relocation of 911 equipment, increase in utilities and operation expenses, additional detention officers, a new secure exercise yard to meet standards, a temporary sheriff?s office, and paying an average $35 a day to house prisoners during construction outside Marion County.

The commissioners set allowable sales dates for Fourth of July fireworks from June 27 to July 4. Discharge of fireworks will be allowed June 28 to July 6 during the following times:

  • June 28-29, July 3 — from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.
  • June 30, July 1-2 — from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • July 4 — 8 a.m. to midnight on the 4th.

Bobbi Strait, planning, zoning and environmental health director, asked the commissioners? permission to take the responsibility and buy equipment to check blue-green algae levels at Marion Reservoir through the summer.

Strait, in noting the deaths of two dogs after swimming in algae infested water last summer, asked the commissioners what will be said if a new victim is a child or somebody?s family member?

The discussion of whose responsibility it is has gone back and forth at higher governmental levels, she said.

?But we?re the ones who live here. The state and federal people can just go home. It?s getting dumped in our laps because we?re here,? she said.

Commissioner Bob Hein said, ?Well, if we don?t do something what?s going to happen??

Holub said, ?It?s a moral issue.?

But then, he added that it?s also an economic issue. He said thousands of dollars are being lost to the county because tourists are staying away because of the algae. Strait?s testing two or three times a week could give the tourists the assurance to come enjoy the lake, he said.

Strait said the Corps of Engineers at the Reservoir has volunteered to help by taking her probe out to gather water samples when they take a boat out. She believes she can also enlist the help of Tabor College students to use their laboratory studies to take algae cell counts to validate data.

Hein and Holub voted to approve her purchase of probe for more than $8,000 with Commissioner Randy Dallke voting against.

Dallke said he agreed that the testing needs to be done but with the county?s contributions to the WRAPS program to improve the lake?s water and the payments of the county?s cities to the Kansas Water Resource Board, ?someone else needs to step up to buy equipment.?

Bob Maxwell, rural Marion resident, reported to the commissioners that he has now served as a member of the Eighth Judicial District Corrections Advisory Board for four years.

Maxwell said the judicial district is keying on prevention of juvenile crime, and urging first the involvement of parents and then schools to help young people correct behavioral problems and stay out of trouble. He said most Marion County juveniles he meets are polite young people and well intentioned. They just need informed guidance and better home quality situations to help keep them from alcohol and drug problems.

The commissioners approved road and bridge hauling gravel for a road to new home northwest of Goessel for $3,000 as outlined under zoning rules, but Hein said, ?When we set that, I don?t think the cost of fuel was expected to get this high.?

Acting Road and Bridge Director John Summerville said the actual cost for gravel and fuel hauling 28 miles one-way from the quarry would actually be about $3,700.

The commissioners said more ?pups,? the trailers towed by gravel trucks to haul additional gravel, might need to be purchased to haul more at a time for fuel savings. They said an alternative might be to use contractors for gravel stock piling.

Summerville said a truck might haul up to 25 tons of gravel while the pup behind might hold 10 to 15 tons.

Along with increasing prices, Summerville said he is losing one experienced employee, adding the county could face more employee problems if contractors offer higher wages.

Michele Abbott-Becker, director of communications and emergency management, told commissioners that a new Kansas legislative statute reducing taxes on wireless lines comes at a time when more is needed to keep up with changing technology.

For instance, she said her department will be expected to add technology for receiving text messages and video from the public as the public perception of them being able to do so increases.

She said the issue will be brought up at the Kansas Association of Counties meeting this fall to urge for state repeal of the decrease.

The commissioners asked that citizens with an interest in landscaping and lighting at the courthouse contact the county clerk for being included on a potential committee.

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