Jail expansion begins


By Wayne Gates

The Brown County Jail expansion project is expected to be finished a year from now.

Project Architect David Stone said on August 7 that the estimated completion date for the project is August of next year.

Stone said that the Endeavor Construction, the project contractor, would try to complete the 40 man open bay dormitory prior to next August to allow the jail to expand capacity. The dormitory will allow capacity at the jail to increase to 108 from 68 inmates.

No hard date for completion of the dormitory has been set prior to the deadline for the entire project.

The total construction cost is $3,378,000. In addition to the dormitory, office and other administrative space will be added to the front of the jail. Stone said that digging for the new foundation should begin next week.

When the contractor was chosen last month, Brown County Commissioner Barry Woodruff said “We are very glad to be able to finally resolve this three year, $1.8 million dollar problem.”

He was referring to the history of the jail project, which began in 2015 when a corrections officer filed a complaint that working conditions were unsafe because of overcrowding and poor security.

Upgrades to door locks and other improvements, plus the expense of housing inmates in other county jails ended up costing Brown County approximately $1.8 million.

The county will pay back the cost of the project over ten years at approximately $350,000 per year.

Brown County Sheriff Gordon Ellis said that he is glad to see the project underway.

“I’m excited about the initiation of the construction and look forward to the completion when we will have additional capacity to deal with the ever increasing number of detainees,” he said.

Ellis added that parking would probably be the biggest issue during the project.

“For those who visit the sheriff’s office, the front entrance is still open to the public, however, parking in front of the building is no longer available due to the construction,” he said.

Ellis said that visitors can park on the right as they approach the building near the Brown County Title Office or on the left of the project near the Brown County Communications Center.

Ellis also said that he is looking forward to next year when construction is complete.

“This was a hot topic when I was running for sheriff in 2016 and people realized that there needed to be some action taken. I am pleased with the idea that we are not only adding capacity, but we are renovating the current facility to elevate the security inside which will enhance safety for everybody involved,” Ellis said.