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Adams County Board of Supervisors approves land purchase for jail, considers delay

The Adams County Jail is a costly facility that some members of the county board believe will be shut down eventually. Now they are working on building a new one. (KSNB)
The Adams County Jail is a costly facility that some members of the county board believe will be shut down eventually. Now they are working on building a new one. (KSNB)(KSNB)
Published: Dec. 4, 2019 at 6:34 PM CST
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UPDATE APRIL 7, 2020

On Tuesday, the Adams County Board of Supervisors took a vote to officially buy the proposed plot of land on south Highway 281.

The vote passed and the county will buy the land at $180,0000, minus the $10,000 they already put down. Supervisors said this is the best deal they could have gotten for the 11 acres of land and did not want to miss out on it.

But when the jail will be built is now in question. The original plan was to have voters decide in November on the cost that would affect taxpayers. Scott Thomsen of the board said with the pandemic they aren't sure it is the right time to ask taxpayers to take on this burden just yet. There has not been an official decision on the change.

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New steps have been taken to bring Adams County closer to a new jail. The Adams County Board of Commissioners has purchased new land on the south side of town as the site for the potential justice center. Now they are working to figure out how to get the best price.

The original plan was to build the justice center downtown across from the courthouse on 5th Street. But there were a number of reasons the board changed locations. They now have 11 acres at Highway 281 and M Street. They can make the building one story and cut out some storage to bring the cost to about $40 million.

Parking was also a concern with the downtown space. St. Cecilia told the board they would consider expanding downtown in the future and other businesses weren't on board for the location.

“In order just to be a good neighbor to all there were some business leaders that thought maybe it wasn't a good idea to put a jail downtown,” Adams county Commissioner Scott Thomsen said. “We just want to be good neighbors to everybody. This enables us to have a larger parcel of land so in the future if we need to expand we can easily expand.”

The board wants to keep the facility from being a major burden on taxpayers and will continue to find ways to reduce the cost. The facility would have about 150 beds for inmates. The current jail only has about 40.

“Being limited space here at the courthouse or across the street we would have had to use a three story building,” Thomsen said. “We can have it all on one floor out there which we think is much better but also does reduce construction costs a little bit so there's a plus there too.”

The cost right now is coming out to be $40 million but the board still believes that is too high for taxpayers. But not having to pay a yearly $1.5 million to house inmates in other counties with a new facility will help with the costs.

“We'll be able to pay off the facility by taking overflow prisoners from other counties. This gives them a good avenue to come into hastings and bring their inmates to us,” Thomsen said.

The board believes the current jail is not safe for both inmates and employees. With frequent transportation of inmates across counties it can put deputies at risk.

There are plans for more public meetings to discuss the new facility plans. The board is hopeful to let the community decide on the measure in the November election.

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DECEMBER 4, 2019

The Adams County Board of Supervisors is in talks to get a new jail and law enforcement facility. The current one is not big enough to house all the prisoners and has a number of maintenance issues.

The jail committee met on Tuesday night and are closing in on a design and location they would want for the facility. Now they are waiting to hear how much the project would cost. The location they are considering the most is north of the courthouse where the annex building is. They would tear that building down, which has a number of its own issues and build there and on the parking lot.

The current jail was built back in the early 1960's and has a number of maintenance issues that make it unsafe for the prisoners and jailers.

“We're going to get closed down sooner or later. Right now interest rates are very low which would help keep the cost down,” Supervisor Scott Thomsen said.

One bailiff mentioned that sometimes while in court the weight room above will be so loud it disrupts court proceedings. With all the issues it has, Thomsen said it is only being kept open due to being grandfathered in.

“There are safety concerns for our deputies and our jailers up there. We have physical issues with maintenance all the time, water leaks, heating, air conditioning. It's just an outdated facility,” Thomsen said.

The current jail can only hold 37 men and they can't take in women of juveniles. The county pays over $1 million a year to house an additional 35 people at other jails in different jails in Hall, Buffalo, and Phelps counties. Deputies have to travel as far as Lexington to get prisoners for their arraignments or trials. In the new facility, the jail, courtrooms, and sheriff's office would all be under one roof.

“I think it's an important thing to have the courts the same place as the jail. At present we are transporting prisoners even though the courthouse around the public,” Thomsen said. “That's not a safe way to do that. With a new facility, you can pretty much take a prisoner from their cell and enter into a courtroom.

they are almost to the point where the public can get involved in the process.”

The jail committee is planning on having a public meeting in January for people to ask questions about the project. They also plan to get the measure on the 2020 November ballot so the county will ultimately decide what will happen with the jail.

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