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County continues to move forward with plans to expand local jail

Cook County's new branding design
Cook County's new branding design

At the Nov. 27 meeting of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, the county’s ‘Jail Study Master Plan’ facilitated by Wold Architects was among the noteworthy topics discussed.

The recommendation from the study is to expand the current jail and law enforcement center to accommodate for holding more inmates. This will reduce the need for transferring those who are detained, as the county’s current policy now requires after holding an individual for 72 hours. 

If expanded, the jail redesign will cost approximately $5 million.

Cook County Sheriff Pat Eliasen was present during Tuesday’s meeting. Along with John McNamara from the design firm Wold Architects, Eliasen shared an update with the county board regarding the expansion of the local law enforcement center and jail. Expanding the jail could reduce the need for inmate transfers to other counties, which cost both time and money, according to county officials.

The only request on Tuesday regarding the jail was to approve Wold Architects to begin a design to expand the local jail. This will cost approximately $42,700.

The commissioners approved this request on a 5-0 vote, with Commissioner Heidi Doo-Kirk referring to the approval as a “no-brainer.”

At the start of Tuesday’s meeting, there was concern expressed by some members of the public regarding the jail expansion. Local property owner Pam Dorris said her concerns were rooted in what expanding the jail could mean to the community.

In a larger context, Dorris said she does not know what the county board is doing to the community.

“This used to be a nice little town,” she said.

After Dorris addressed the commissioners, local resident Rae Piepho also voiced concern over expanding the local jail facility.

Cadwell, meanwhile, maintains that any expansion of the local jail could be done without creating a burden on local taxpayers.

Final approval by the county board on expanding the jail would likely be up for a vote in 2019. 
 

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