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County Board Resumes Jail Talks

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Former Auto Parts Property Becomes Focus

By Joe Foreman, Editor

They’re not ready to put a bond issue before the voters, but the Mills County supervisors have agreed to take a strong look at the recommendation of a citizens jail committee.

In a report released last month, the Mills County Citizens Jail Committee recommended that the county acquire the former Anderson Auto Parts property on the east side of Town Square in Glenwood to allow for expansion and remodeling of the existing Mills County Sheriff’s Office and replacement of the 94-year-old Mills County Jail. The project would include construction of a 24-bed jail and carry an estimated price tag of $5.6 million. Funding, presented in the form of a bond issue, would need to be approved by Mills County voters.

Several options, including the construction of new facilities outside the Glenwood city limits, were assessed by the jail committee, but in the end, the renovation of the existing sheriff’s office building was viewed as the most viable solution to addressing the county’s jail needs.

The supervisors want to learn more about the Anderson Auto Parts site and the potential remodel / expansion costs before putting the issue on a ballot.

Supervisor Joe Blankenship said he has concerns about putting the bond issue before the voters during tough economic times.

“We need to nail the figures before setting a bond issue election,” Blankenship said.

Before agreeing to a further study of the issue, the board received a proposal from Kyle Anderson’s real estate sales representative, Jim Hughes. Anderson has offered to sell the county the auto parts store property for $175,000. In return, he would purchase a parcel of land south of Glenwood from the county for $50,000. The county had proposed building a new public safety center / jail on the parcel in 2007, but the $6.9 million bond issue was soundly rejected by voters.

“It looks like something that could be a win-win for everybody,” Hughes told the supervisors. “It looks like it would be a wise move for the county. It gets rid of something you don’t want and gives you something you need.”

Hughes said public speculation about the county’s potential purchase and plans for the auto parts store has put his client, Anderson, in a “tough spot” as he tries to sell the property.

In his proposal, Anderson is giving the county until Feb. 2 to accept or turn down his offer.

“The problem right now is that we haven’t made a decision on the jail,” Blankenship said.