The Starke County Jail Committee will be holding informational meetings on the jail situation in the third week in January. Although dates and locations have not been established, the Committee has agreed to meet at three sites.
The meetings are being held in the early stages of the Committee’s work to provide Republican Representative Doug Gutwein, of Francesville, with more information to present to the state legislature. Gutwein has agreed to author CEDIT legislation that could fund, or partially fund, whatever is decided by the committee as the best remedy for the aged jail structure.
One of the components of the bill will be public sentiment surrounding the committee’s options for the jail.
Committee Chairperson, Kathy Norem, said that Todd Samuelson, of Umbaugh and Associates, will be in attendance at the meetings to explain the cost of various construction options.
“The primary focus, of course, will be Todd because that’s what everybody wants to hear,” said Norem. “While we have some of these other components in here that need to be expanded upon, the major focus is going to be the financial portion of it.”
The options range from doing nothing to building a new jail. Judge Kim Hall, a member of the committee, reminded fellow members that even nothing could cost in the long run, by triggering a federal court mandate.
“We’re going to have lawsuits filed in federal courts and judges are going to order us to shut down the jail, construct or to remodel it,” commented Judge Hall. “They’re going to issue orders to us to do these things. So, doing nothing is going to cost a certain amount of money.”
There is already a class action suit against the county over the condition of the jail.
Information on dates and times will be announced when it becomes available.