Citizens Safety Center group seeks countywide input, sets Kalona meet

By Ron Slechta
Posted 4/29/99

Expressing a desire to get citizen input and muster support for a new County Safety Center/Jail, the Citizen‘s Safety Center Study Committee will hold its next meeting at the Kalona Chamber of …

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Citizens Safety Center group seeks countywide input, sets Kalona meet


Expressing a desire to get citizen input and muster support for a new County Safety Center/Jail, the Citizen‘s Safety Center Study Committee will hold its next meeting at the Kalona Chamber of Commerce Building at 7 p.m. on Monday, May 10.

Architect Rod Moore, Moore & Associates, P.C., Omaha, Nebraska, will be presenting preliminary sketches of the proposed safety center at the Kalona meeting.

The Kalona meeting will include a 30-minute question and answer period.

Chaired by Harvey Holden, Washington, the citizen’s committee has determined that the new facility should be built at the site of the present facility with the Communications Center module being constructed immediately next to the center’s antenna tower. This alone will save the $690,000 cost of moving the tower. The rest of the new building could then be built around the communications center as public approval and funding becomes available.

Meeting in the County Board of Supervisors room in the courthouse basement April 26, the citizens committee heard a report from Mike Roe and receive some direction from the Board of Supervisors.

Roe proposed a two-story building to be built around and over the present facility. Roe’s proposal calls for use of the present jail as office area and utilizing other areas for exercise and administration. His plan calls for the jail to be on the second floor with cells to be stacked in two tiers. He pointed out that the area between the first and second floor would allow easy access to electrical and plumbing when repairs are needed. This would also allow for expansion to the east and would make the jail area more secure. His proposal called for a 106 ft. x 132 ft facility. He noted the basement could be used for storage.

Earlier, architect Moore presented a preliminary plan that called for a 132 ft. x 132 ft. two-story structure with the jail on the main floor and offices on the second floor with no basement.

“Let’s get the most out of it (present facility) as possible,” Roe said in urging use of the present facility. “There is a lot of square footage that can be used, so why rebuild?”

Supervisors Bob Stout and Virginia Bordwell pointed out that much of the floor in the present center is “spongy” and it was questionable how much could be saved by not tearing down the present building.

Roe said his concern was that every avenue to save tax dollars be explored. However, if a careful analysis proved it was more cost effective to demolish and start new, he would be comfortable with that plan. The committee said they too are concerned about the most cost effective plan. Roe commended the committee on deciding to locate the new facility at the site of the present facility.

Stout stressed that he wants a facility that is durable and can last 30 to 40 years. He agreed to ask the architect to investigate the feasibly of housing prisoners on the second floor.


Chairman Harvey said as soon as architectural plans and cost estimates are received, the committee needed to start focusing on methods of financing. Stout and Bordwell suggested having authorities on bonding, local option sales tax and lease purchase make presentations.

Chairman Holden said he wasn’t interested in local option sales tax as it was a “flash point” that the committee didn’t need.

Stout said that no federal funding for this type of facility is available at this time.


In an attempt to get the committee’s message out to the citizens of the county, Holden announced that he had asked magistrate Rachel Nicola to prepare a series of stories for all area newspapers plus the Cedar Rapids Gazette and Iowa City Press Citizen.

Dean Kurtz suggested holding a series of community-based discussion groups. It was also suggested to hold meetings in other communities to gain additional input. Mike Murphy suggested putting a program on the Washington cable TV channel.


Holden stated that the committee needs to come up with a plan and possible vote on a new center by January 1, 2000. State Jail Inspector Rod Kampman has threatened to limit the Washington jail to eight inmates a day if plans for upgrade aren’t finalized by the end of the year. The current average is 20.


In a written statement of expectations to the Citizens’ Safety Center Study Committee, the Board of Supervisors stated that while the committee’s recommendations may differ from their earlier failed attempt to build a new center, their recommendation “must be well-researched and well-reasoned recommendations, rather than opinions you held at the time you first walked through the door.”

“We expect you to use each other’s specialized knowledge and to develop common expertise through group experiences so that the committee has no weak legs. We expect discussion to occur in the meetings. Our philosophy is that everything that needs to be said should be said aloud in this room, with personal feelings set aside,” the statement said.

The board also urged committee members to wholeheartedly support the final report and recommendation.

Basically the task of the committee is to make recommendations about the safety center project as to: 1)what to build, 2) where to build it; and 3) how to pay for it.

The committee is made up of appointees by the supervisors and representatives from each city.

The committee members plan to make a trip May 3 to look over the Jefferson County Jail.