Local leaders share views of justice center

Published 2:59 pm Thursday, September 9, 2010

As the county prepares to open the new jail and justice center, the Herald asked local leaders and citizens about their opinions on what the center will mean for the community of Austin.

Richard Cummings, former commissioner

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“It’s good to see that it finally got built and will be becoming occupied this month and next month. From my time on the board, it was a necessary thing to do.”

“I think it was built in a very efficient manner. It blends in with the courthouse, but I do not think that it is the Taj Mahal that some people maybe say or think it is.”

Garry Ellingson, former commissioner

I’m kind of excited. It’s a milestone for the city and the county and it’s just going to be exciting to see it open and see everything they’ve done. I’m sure it’s going to be a vast improvement over the old one.”

“I think it looks nice. That is a vast improvement over the buildings we’re sitting in here. It has cleaned up the downtown and will be an improvement in that respect. Only time will tell whether this was the best decision or not.”

Eric Herendeen, Cheif Deputy County Attorney

“I think it will good for providing justice in this county. It’s going to be a lot bigger. Our outfit here has very little room. We have boxes stacked everywhere. We’ll have have room to file things. There will be increased security for the public and the victims, People will be brought directly from the jail to the court rooms. I think its a pretty good deal.”

Steve King, Director of Corrective Services

“It’s a much need facility from my perspective. We have 13 employees here in corrections. We have office space currently for eight. We have three that will be moving out of a storage room. Outside of their office, it says storage. We have three people that are in really a makeshift type office. We put book shelves to make walls to afford them some kind of privacy. Working in probation, you need that level of privacy. Being able to move from an office with the capacity of eight to over here where we have two offices to spare for growth, is long awaited.”

“We’ve been operating here for so long I don’t expect a lot of change. I’m happy that it ended up being down town. “

Kyle Klaehn, community activist

“As much as we needed to do something in regards to a holding facility for correctional purposes, my position would be that more money was spent than what would have been needed to accomplish the need for these types of services. I’m not looking forward to the increased expense of the new facility versus old. It will have to come from the taxpayers; it will end up on the tax rolls one way or another. But there’s no stopping it; it’s there, so let’s get it put to use and hope that administration can minimize the additional expense once it’s operational.”

Brian Krueger, Police Chief

“It’s been an opportunity for new employment for people in the area to become detention deputies, so that’s a plus. I’m sure it’ll be business as usual except we’ll have to walk across the street to file complaints. I’m sure it’ll be a win-win situation for everybody.”

Kristen Nelsen, county attorney

“It’s going to greatly be an improvement over what we have here because it’s going to make our victims much safer. It’s a more conducive environment for victims to wait to go to court. It’s a safer environment for victims. They don’t necessarily need to be sitting in the same row as their offenders in court.

“We’ll (the county attorneys office) actually have room for our files. Right now a lot of our files are in boxes overflowing on the floor. We’ll have file cabinets and room for things in the new building. It’ll make us much more efficient.”

Donald E. Rysavy, Third District Judge

“I’m very pleased. I think the present situation is such that it is isn’t very safe for people who work here or for people that have to use the facility. The new facility answers and takes care of a lot of those questions.

“The door to courtroom number one is directly across from my chambers, people come down the hall way from the jail, right past chambers, to go into the court room No. 1. All of us that use that corridor are constantly running into inmates as they come through.”