Commissioners split on new jail optionsA jail discussion turned heated at Tuesday’s Douglas County Board meeting. Two motions – one to continue discussions with Pope County and another to rule out the possibility of building a jail in Glenwood – resulted in split votes.
By: By Erin Klegstad, Staff Reporter, Alexandria Echo Press
A jail discussion turned heated at Tuesday’s Douglas County Board meeting.
Two motions – one to continue discussions with Pope County and another to rule out the possibility of building a jail in Glenwood – resulted in split votes.
Board chair Jerry Johnson and commissioners Bev Bales and Norm Salto voted to continue discussions with Pope County to collaborate on a regional jail facility (the two groups met last week), while commissioners Paul Anderson and Dan Olson voted against it.
Anderson and Olson voted to rule out the possibility of building a jail in Glenwood, and the other three voted to keep it on the table.
County Coordinator Bill Schalow will be writing a letter to Pope County outlining the board’s direction: Everything is on the table.
Olson stressed that because of the large number of prisoners in Douglas County, the facility needs to be located here. “We need to go ahead and plan this jail in Douglas County – in my opinion on a green site – for our future,” he said.
Anderson agreed, adding that the ball is in Pope County’s court. “We went through this joint regional jail study about three and a half years ago,” he said, “and it was decided then, we couldn’t afford the transportation costs.”
Bales said that although the county has been concerned with transportation costs to a facility on a green site, “another four or five miles” to a facility in Glenwood wouldn’t matter.
When Anderson questioned her on her mileage numbers, Bales didn’t elaborate.
Sheriff Troy Wolbersen said locating the facility in Glenwood – 16 miles away from Alexandria – wouldn’t be feasible because of high transportation costs. “I don’t think it’s a good idea considering we are the main stakeholder,” he said.
Bales suggested that they should find out where Stevens County stands (that county is exploring the possibility of collaborating with Pope County; the two have a 60-day memorandum of understanding that expires in September).
Schalow said they needed to narrow down what they’re serious about continuing to discuss with Pope County so a 60-day memorandum of understanding could be written (similar to the one between Pope and Stevens counties).
To that Johnson said, “Everything is on the table.”
“Everything has been on the table for the last three years,” Anderson retorted.
Olson added, “This whole thing has just gotten way out of hand. We’ve studied and re-studied and re-studied. It’s time we move forward and get ourselves some land and be done with it.”
Anderson then addressed his fellow board members. “I don’t know where you three are coming from,” he said to Bales, Johnson and Salto. “I’m getting tired of spending money and getting nothing.”
Bales responded, “Where the three of us are coming from is to be sensible of what we can build and what the people can afford.”
Alexandria resident Bonnie Huettl ended the meeting by saying, “I would really appreciate Douglas County taking a lead role in one of these discussions. Let us be a leader. Let them come to us.”
OTHER BOARD ACTION
Here’s a summary of other action items at Tuesday’s Douglas County Board meeting. The county board:
Approved a 6-by-12-foot double-sided sign for Lakeland Log Homes and Construction LLC near the Osakis exit on Interstate 94.
Approved the preliminary plats of Steen Subdivision and Skid Road First Addition.
Approved the final plats of Stoney Front Acres First Addition, Kris’s Addition, and Carlos Bluffs Fourth Addition.
Awarded a contract in the amount of $546,300 to Midwest Contracting of Marshall for the reconstruction of County Road 74. The amount was considerably less than the engineer’s estimate of $741,250.
Heard an update about the Pretty Good Trail Connection Celebration set for Saturday, August 26. Garrison Keillor will attend the event.
Approved a $7,458 federal boat and water safety grant. The sheriff’s office will use the funds to replace signs on area lakes with 50 navigational buoys. Four inflatable personal flotation devices will also be purchased.
Approved gambling permits for the Leaf Valley Toms and Leaf Valley Hot Hens for raffles at the Leaf Valley Town Hall on September 8 and October 25.
Approved a liquor license for on-sale liquor at Mulligan’s.
Approved a request for family medical leave for an employee at public health.
Agreed to cancel the board’s July 17 meeting.