Serve time in the Mower Slammer

Published 10:46 am Thursday, October 9, 2008

Visited the Austin Noon Kiwanis Club this week for a free meal.

Told a few jokes — well, at least, I thought they were funny — spoke my piece on reporting non-news events and then asked for questions.

Sure enough, the Mower County Jail and Justice Center project came up again.

Email newsletter signup

If I got paid by the inch for what I write about the jail and justice center project I would be almost as rich as ….. well …… the architects designing the project.

I heard another citizen ask why we can’t house prisoners in tents in the wilderness like Sheriff Joe does in Arizona. All I can say is I wonder that, too.

People, I think it’s time to go on the record and list the top 10 signs the Mower County Jail and Justice Center Project is in trouble.

I haven’t offended public officials lately and people think I’m getting soft when it comes to writing an interesting column.

Well, I’ll show you.

Here they are: The top 10 signs the Mower County Jail and Justice Center project is in trouble:

No. 10: Architects designing new jail get confused and submit plans for a new Holiday Inn and nobody notices the difference.

No. 9: Austin Area Chamber of Commerce announces new economic development plan: Buy Mower, Grow Mower, Serve Time in the Mower Slammer.

No. 8: Mower County’s demands for adequate parking spaces for county employees get out of hand, when city of Austin agrees to set aside land for another parking lot and discovers there’s no room for a new jail and justice center in downtown Austin.

No. 7: Historic Paramount Theatre brass announces plans to build skyway to the new jail to attract customers for sagging attendance at yodeling contests.

No. 6: Project stalls, when Mower County Commissioners confess it’s been so long since they started discussing the project they don’t remember why they’re doing it. Architects take them for a walk around the courthouse.

No. 5: Alert county coordinator Craig Oscarson discovers design plans call for conjugal cells and declares restorative justice in Minnesota has gone too far.

No. 4: City of Austin’s property acquisition stalls, when ex-dancers at Showgirls Saloon demand relocation allowances.

No. 3: Mower County Commissioners caught off guard by an angry taxpayer’s “Up yours” remark and immediately scrap new jail/justice plans for adding another story atop existing courthouse and jail. A chorus of “I told you so’s” is heard.

No. 2: Construction of new facilities pushed back to next summer after city of Austin discovers St. Mark’s Lutheran Home and southwest residents don’t want a dog park in their backyard and city’s dog owners stage sit-down strike in two block jail/justice center site.

And the Number One sign the Mower County Jail and Justice Center project is in trouble is:

No. 1: Out-spoken Freeborn County Commissioner Dan Belschan offers two-for-one special — two cells for the price of one — for boarding out prisoners at less-than-half full Freeborn County Jail, causing the Mower County Commissioners to say they will “think it over,” during a winter retreat at the Oasis in Dexter. When they return, commissioners announce plans to study jail over-crowding and court security issues and invite the city of Austin to “come up with some really neat ideas that we can ignore.”