Delaware County Board of Supervisors have set Tuesday, May 7 for a vote for a new jail facility and sheriff’s office. The decision for the election came at its March 4 meeting.
The election will ask for general obligation bonds not to exceed $5.9 million dollars for construction of the facility. The cost estimate includes all costs associated with the jail.
Plans call for the facility to be built in Manchester, at a site that has yet to be selected.
The referendum for a new facility follows failed attempts in 2014 and 2015 to remodel the existing facility.
John Hansen from Midwest Construction Consultants, provided blueprints of the proposed facility at the Feb. 25 supervisors meeting.
The proposed facility would be 18,530 square feet and would include 30 beds for prisoners, along with 16 work release beds for people who need to serve time on weekends or evenings. In addition, there would be nine holding areas, along with a sheriff’s office, deputy work areas and interrogation rooms.
Hansen told the supervisors the new facility would be build so that it could be expanded with an additional 20 beds if needed.
He added that travel costs out of the county to house and retrieve prisoners are $215 round trip per inmate to Clayton County and $276 round trip per inmate to Buchanan County.
At the March 4 meeting, Delaware County Sheriff, John LeClere, told the supervisors his office has been working on some type of solution since the last referendum failed.
“We are on the short list for closure by the state inspector,” LeClere said. “They won’t close us if they see we are trying to do something, but we’re close.”
LeClere said a new facility could last between 50 and 75 years. “I’ve toured some of the other jails this firm (Midwest Consultants) has designed. They are functional, cost-effective facilities that are very basic and very secure.”
A new facility would mean that prisoners would be housed in Delaware County. LeClere said often the county has more prisoners than space, meaning Delaware County deputies must transport prisoners to other county jails.
LeClere explained that recently his deputies made four trips to four different cities to transport prisoners to and from hearings. “We sent deputies to Elkader, West Union, Waterloo and Le Mars.” Following court hearings in Delaware County, those prisoners were transported back to those cities to be held.
Following the meeting, Supervisor Shirley Helmrichs said she hopes county residents see the need for the facility. “Facts are facts. Our jail census has increased and we have to house our jail population out of county. Those costs mount up and that also takes our deputies away from their duties in our county.”
She said the facility is in line with the county’s effort to spend taxpayer money wisely. “It’s a no-frills facility built to cover our county’s needs, not other county’s needs. The bottom line is we need to take care of our businesses and our county’s citizens.”
Helmrichs encouraged those with questions to contact either the supervisors’ office or the sheriff’s office and said tours of the current facility will be scheduled before the vote. “If you haven’t had a chance to see the current jail, you should come see what had worked for over 50 years that isn’t working anymore.”