Move to new jail planned for September

Published 6:36 am Friday, May 7, 2010

The Mower County Jail and Justice Center could see its first inhabitants by mid-September.

The courts and county offices will tentatively be moving to the new jail and justice center the week of Sept. 13, according to Mower County Coordinator Craig Oscarson. The jail would be moved later to give additional time to ensure jail staff is properly trained for the new facility.

Oscarson said it’s very likely the week of Sept. 13 will be the moving week, unless there’s a delay in the project. Employees would tentatively start work at the offices the following Monday.

Construction on the building is progressing, and the Mower County Board of Commissioners approved a contract with KKE Architects for $17,500 to help plan for the new furniture in the building.

Once the architect orders all the furnishings, it will likely take at least six weeks before the furniture is delivered and installed. Oscarson said the new furniture and furnishings for the building will cost about $884,000 if everything is completed as planned — about $100,000 below budget.

That cost doesn’t just cover shelves and desks. It also accounts for the new phone system and other equipment in both the jail, courtrooms and offices, Oscarson said.

Most of the furniture will be new, but a few things will be moved from the Mower County Government Center. Oscarson said the county is looking to keep many of the existing office cubicles and other furniture in the government center to save money when they remodel the government center after the move, a change that could potentially include moving the offices for health and human services to the government center. Oscarson said discussions concerning the future of health and human services and the government center will begin in the next few months.

Oscarson said he anticipates the new furnishings will be in place by mid-August, so the county board can shift its focus to introducing people to the new building.

Sometime before the offices open, the county will hold open houses for the public to tour the building sometime in late August or early September. Oscarson said they may host one initial open house with a ribbon cutting on a weekend followed by shorter self-guided tours on a few weeknights.