McCOOK, Neb. — Red Willow County commissioners are creating a jail task force to spearhead the county’s study into jail options.
Unlike a task force formed five years ago to study the possibility of building a joint city-county law enforcement facility, this task force will concentrate on the pros and cons of operating a county jail as well as on the continuation of the current prisoner transport procedure from the City of McCook.
During a recent meeting, commissioners and Sheriff Gene Mahon discussed potential appointments to the task force out of a pool of local residents.
Steven Riley and Scott Lundberg of Prochaska & Associates, the Omaha, Neb. firm commissioners hired to conduct the jail feasibility study, told commissioners that task force members should believe in the project, even if they’re unsure right now which of the five options the county should pursue: a new jail connected to the north side of the courthouse and/or the sheriff’s office; renovation/expansion of the county’s existing jail in the sheriff’s office; renovation of the city’s existing 96-hour holding cells into a fully operational jail; construction of a new jail at a new site; or the development of a hold-and-transport facility and continuing to transfer long-term prisoners to neighboring counties.
The consultants and the task force will develop and refine the five options and by the first part of July, will pick the top option for which to develop a budget and locate a bond company.
Riley and Lundberg’s timeline includes conducting site surveys and a walk-through of existing facilities.
The Nebraska Jail Standards board will then review the plans and a final proposal will be made to commissioners by the middle of August.
Commission chairman Earl McNutt noted the timeline allows plenty of time for town hall meetings to explain renovation and construction plans to residents before the November election.
Construction of a jail, if that is the final decision approved by voters, could begin in the spring of 2012.