The expansion of the Cherokee County Jail might not be as big of a project as once considered, according to supervisors discussing the matter at last week's Cherokee County Board of Supervisors meeting.
"We just probably need a couple of big cells," Jeff Simonsen, chairman, said. The cells would allow better separation of jail inmates by classification, either gender and crime level. Simonsen added that there needs to be some safety features added.
Adding more jail cells to increase the inmate population had been considered at one time when there was a shortage of jail capacity in the state. The county charges on a per diem basis for housing inmates from outside the county.
Now increasing the inmate population doesn't appear to be a goal for the county.
"From what I've been told, it's not the construction costs that are the big problem of adding jail space, it's the ongoing operation costs," Dean Schmidt, supervisor, said.
Ron Wetherell, supervisor, indicated that it wouldn't make sense to make the changes necessary to house federal prisoners. The federal government would pay whatever the per inmate daily cost would be for housing the inmates but nothing beyond that to subsidize construction costs.
It is likely that at the time of any jail expansion, there will also be an expansion of the courthouse to improve storage space and to house the office of Mae Hingtgen, county services director, and the office of the new county attorney after that becomes a full-time position next year.
It was noted at the supervisor's meeting that the construction projects will likely require passage of a bond.