Jail and Justice Center opens doors

Published 5:00 pm Saturday, September 11, 2010

County commissioner David Hillier cuts the ribbon during a ceremony for the Jail and Justice Center Saturday. - Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Mower County residents got to see firsthand what it’s like inside the newly built Jail and Justice Center Saturday.

County officials held a ribbon cutitng ceremony as well as the first of two tours early Saturday morning.

“It’s been a long affair, by no stretch of the imagination,” County Commissioner Ray Tucker said during the ribbon cutting ceremony.

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Crowds gathered at 10 a.m. to start their self-guided tours of the facility, which began immediately after the ribbon cutting. For most people, the building inspired awe as cries of “Oh, wow,” echoed throughout the halls.

Mower County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Mark May talks with Roger Hoffman, who is retired from the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections during a tour of the inside of the Jail and Justice Center Saturday morning. - Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

“It’s different,” Donovan Robert Mitchell, who was present at the ribbon cutting said. “It’s something the county needed.”

Many people taking a tour of the center agreed. As county residents toured the facility, some marveled at how state of the art the facility was.

“It’s like a hotel,” one elderly woman was heard saying.

Arnie Johnson, who also toured the facility in the early morning, thought it was great the jail had handicapped cells.

“It was pretty cool,” Johnson said. “Looks like something you see on TV, you know, the command center.”

Not everyone who took the tour was happy with the new building, however.

“There’s no windows for the inmates like in the old jail,” said Dawn Stehlik. “They should have more windows so [inmates] can at least look outside.”

Stehlik, who is still against the Jail and Justice Center’s construction, was one of only a few people taking the tour who didn’t like the new facility.

There will be another opportunity for people to tour the Jail and Justice Center on Monday, from 5 to 8 p.m. Once the tours are done, the real work begins.

A cleaning firm worked in the building over the weekend. Once the tours end Monday night, work will shift to moving over the court administration, county attorney and corrections offices and the courts to the building.

Employees are expected to start work in the building the week of Sept. 20.

While the jailers are currently training in the new facility, the jail is not slated to open until next month.