Starke County Officials Host Open House at New Jail Facility

This building will soon house the new Starke County Jail.
This building will soon house the new Starke County Jail.
Starke County Commissioners should have final plans for the new jail facility within the next month. The architectural and engineering firms will consider comments from last night’s open house at the facility on State Road 8 across from Sabre Manufacturing as they put the finishing touches on the project. President of the Commissioners Kathy Norem says inmates will be brought in through a secure entrance.

“When inmates are brought to the facility, they will enter through the sallyport area. The doors go up, the car goes in, the door goes down again. They’ve got them secured, and then they take them through the sallyport to inmate booking,” said Norem.

For now Starke Circuit Court will remain at the courthouse in downtown Knox. Eventually as the county has money to further build out the space the design includes room to move the courtroom to the new building. Until then Norem says plans call for a videoconferencing system so arraignments can be handled via closed circuit feed. Norem adds the base bid includes considerably more cell space, with an option for more either now, depending on costs, or later as funds become available.

“These three quarters are on the base bid, and I believe that’s 106 beds if I’m not mistaken. This will be an alternate bid which will add another 40 beds, I believe. We have the potential to put in another 146 or 148 bids when the project is finished,” said Norem.

The current jail can only house 63 inmates at a time.

“Capacity is one of the problems we’ve had with the current jail, Norem says. “We are housing inmates down in Pulaski County and have been for a little over a year now. Part of that is regulated by the federal court class action lawsuit that we had. We won’t have that expense any more, and we’ll have all of our inmates at our facility,” Norem explained.

The county purchased the building from Mark and Becky Bailey. Norem says it was most recently used for church youth group activities.

“Prior to that it was used as office space for the factory across the street when it was General Woodworker, and they called this ‘Doors, Floors and More.’ Their business at that time was to sell upscale doors and casework, hence the beautiful staircase we’ve got here and the casework,” Norem said.

Norem says work on the project should start soon.

“They’ll bring them to the commissioners for approval to go out to bid, and that will be sometime in September, about the middle of September to the middle of October, we’ll award the bids then. We’ll expect groundbreaking the first part of November,” explained Norem.

The entire project should be finished by the spring of 2015.

Click here to view the paperwork distributed at the open house, including floor and site plans and the bidding contractor documentation.