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Let the Construction Begin!

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Ground Broken On New Mills County Law Enforcement Center, Jail

By Joe Foreman, Editor

Construction of the Mills County Law Enforcement Center and Jail has begun.

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County officials took part in a formal ground-breaking ceremony last Wednesday, Aug. 7 –  exactly one year from the day Mills County residents approved construction of the $6.4 million facility by a 69 - 31-percent margin. The building, which will house the county jail and sheriff’s offices, will be built in an industrial area of Glenwood at 500 Railroad Ave., on a tract of land directly south of the Mills County Engineer’s building.

Mills County Sheriff Eugene Goos said the new facility will be a vast improvement over the county’s current sheriff’s office and 13-bed jail that was built in 1915. The existing facility falls short of meeting jail standards for inmate and public safety and is not ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) compliant.

“It’s going to be hands down better than the facility we have now,” Goos said at last week’s ceremony.

During his remarks, Goos also addressed one major change in plans for the new jail – 36 beds instead of the 24 originally planned.
“With this jail, we started out with 24 beds and decided to up it to 36,” Goos said. “Last summer (after passage of the bond issue), we had 29 people in at one time and had them farmed out all over. With 24 beds, we would have still been farming people out. My chief deputy isn’t here today for the fact that he’s transporting a prisoner out.

 “The new facility will be able to go up to 50. Let’s hope we don’t ever have to make it that big, but I’m afraid that we more than likely will, especially with the new (Highway 34) bridge.
There will be more development and easier access for criminal activity to come into our county.”

Members of the board of supervisors stressed the decision to include the 12 additional beds at the outset won’t increase the cost of the project. The flexibility to increase jail cell space was in the plan from the beginning. Supervisor Ron Kohn said some minor revisions of the original floor plan will be required to accommodate the additional beds.

Dirt work at the construction site of the facility actually began prior to last week’s ceremony. Construction is projected to be completed by the fall of 2014. Prohaska and Associates is serving as an engineering consultant to the county for the project and Meco-Henne Construction is the general contractor. Both firms are based in Omaha.

Kohn and fellow supervisors Richard Crouch and Lonnie Mayberry also spoke at the ground-breaking, along with county auditor Carol Robertson and other dignitaries. Crouch thanked members of the citizens committee that worked for passage of the bond issue prior to last summer’s special election.

“This committee consisted of people from all across the county,” Crouch said. “They did a great job for us on selling this to the people.”

The new facility will be Mills County’s fourth jail. The county’s first three jails were built in 1853, 1869 and 1915.