Mt Pleasant News

Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 17, 2018

New county jail could surpass 44 beds

Sep 27, 2017

By Brooks Taylor, Mt. Pleasant News


It’s sounding more and more that the proposed Henry County Jail could end up being larger than the 44-bed project mentioned before the Aug. 1 successful bond referendum on a new county law enforcement center.

On Tuesday, the county board of supervisors interviewed Rick Weidner, Blessington, Neb., the first of three finalists for handling the architectural work for the center. During the interview, bed capacity was mentioned several times.

“I told them (the architects) that we are looking at 55 beds, expandable to 86,” noted John Hanson, president of Midwest Construction Consultants of Houghton, who will serve as the construction manager for the project.”

“Do you think 55 beds is doable with our budget?” asked Supervisor Gary See.

Both Hanson and Weidner said it was.

“Yes,” answered Hanson. “We are holding 35 now which makes it almost full at 44-bed capacity.”

Weidner also said 55 beds were possible “in generality terms.” He added that the last three jail projects — Appanoose, Davis and Allamakee counties — were made larger than originally planned and stayed in budget. “With $9.1 million (amount included in bond referendum), you create room for expansion and if you have the money, you can expand it initially. ...We allow a little more space in case things change. I know Iowa has talked about adding another (inmate) classification. It doesn’t cost any more to have me do a drawing for 60 (rather) than 50 inmates.”

Weidner has extensive experience with jails and has worked with Hanson on many prior projects. Weidner was also the recommendation of Henry County Sheriff Rich McNamee before the supervisors decided to interview three firms. McNamee said he has seen several projects handled by Weidner and has come away very impressed.

Responding to a question by McNamee, Weidner said he would look at “green” sources of energy for the project such as geothermal or solar energy but said he tried to incorporate alternative forms of energy in several other projects but was unsuccessful. “We always look at that and set up a building that is energy efficient,” the architect said.

He also promised to keep submitting plans until one is accepted. “I will keep drawing until you’re happy. It’s usually not one or two (drawings) but nine or 10. ..To me, every jail is an evolution. The next one is always better.”

Weidner, who submitted the most reasonable proprosal at $465,000, said that he and Hanson would sit down with the supervisors to develop a program on “how many beds you want and how many you want in expansion.”

In closing, Weidner said he wants the job. “I’m ready to start now.”

Supervisors interviewed the two remaining finalists this morning and said a decision could be made following those interviews.

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.