Bond issue or not, county considers options of jail building

The good news was there is a grant available to offset expenses to remodel the current jail. The bad news: the grant application is due in two weeks and there's no plan.

That was the scenario Monday from Michele Abbott-Becker, Marion County Communications and Emergency Management Director.

She told the commission about the emergency operations grant but most applicants probably would have a clear-cut plan. Until the jail issue is resolved, either a new jail at Marion Industrial Park or renovation of the current jail, it would be difficult for the county to apply for a grant.

Discussion then followed regarding what could be done to the current jail building.

Abbott-Becker said the electricity would need to be brought to compliance with the outside windows being "hardened" or safer in resisting high winds.

The front of the building would be made handicapped accessible and the footprint of the second floor would be changed.

Commissioner Randy Dallke suggested the garage area for loading and unloading prisoners called the sally port, should be made ground level. Currently it is a steep drive into the basement.

Ideally for an emergency operations center, Abbott-Becker said she would like to have a training room, conference room, and individual work stations for employees.

On the main floor, a hallway could be removed to make more room. The west end of the building could be enclosed to expand office space.

Abbott-Becker said she wasn't sure if the grant would be available again next year but if the county was to apply, there would be a 25 percent match.

All agreed that whether the bond issue passes or not, plans have to be considered for the current jail building.