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Judge’s Plan Approved & County Avoids Immediate Jail Closure

BY MELANIE BUCK –

The regional jail committee that oversees compliance issues for the Polk County Detention Center met on Tuesday, April 25, with County Judge Brandon Ellison, Sheriff Mike Godfrey, and Sheriff-Elect Scott Sawyer to discuss updates on the current jail issue.

Sterling Penix, the Governor’s Appointee Over Jail Standards, along with the committee heard a presentation by Judge Ellison that laid out the steps taken by the county to keep the jail open. The most recent development has been the release of $10,000 by the Polk County Quorum Court to retain Spirit Architecture and SouthBuild Construction for the purpose of determining the repairs and cost of bringing the current jail into compliance.

Once the estimates are complete, it will be up to the Quorum Court on whether to put forth the money to make the repairs necessary. The Court has already earmarked $500,000 for the cost and hopes to continue to put back that amount each year, in an effort to save for either a new jail in the future or expansion of the existing facility.

Ellison explained that if the county is able to continue to save the funds, it shouldn’t take long before a new jail could be built, albeit a smaller jail than previously proposed.

Leon Myers, who sits on the committee, said he believes the county has made a good start in the process. Other committee members were pleased with the progress of the county as well. The committee will come back in August 2016 to hear the results of Spirit Architecture’s findings and will continue discussions.

Penix thanked the Judge and the Sheriff for their diligence and hard work in trying to keep the jail maintained and open and for pursuing a ‘quality outcome.’

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