AP NEWS

New law center in eastern Iowa taking shape

October 28, 2018

CLINTON, Iowa (AP) — Today, it still takes a bit of imagination to envision the future Clinton County law center.

But by the end of April, the structure that currently has several workers on site, piecing together the multi-million dollar facility, will be a fully functional law center capable of housing Clinton County inmates in Clinton.

Elected officials in Clinton and Jackson counties recently joined Clinton County personnel to tour the new law center. To the untrained eye, the building still resembles a shell of its future self, with concrete, steel beams and piping offering some of the main attractions at the moment.

For tour leader Corey Johnson, Clinton County’s facilities manager, the future isn’t hard to see. And that includes well beyond the initial startup.

“We tried to do a lot in this building to prepare for the future,” Johnson told the Clinton Herald . “We looked at not just today, but five years from, 20 years from now, even 50 years from now.”

That has been the prevailing attitude all along, Clinton County Sheriff Rick Lincoln said. Lincoln and other staff members have traveled to other states to see how jails were being run. While he can’t anticipate the new technologies of the future, he’s hoping the building’s specifications can be adjusted to accommodate future endeavors.

“What’s coming in the future and how do we prepare for that?” Lincoln said. “We’re looking at what’s coming next that we can anticipate. And what’s coming that we can’t anticipate.”

There is still plenty to do inside the law center before it can officially open in spring 2019. However, with much of the infrastructure in place, it’s coming to a point where those specific rooms, designed either for conferences, evidence and sheriff’s offices, soon will have the items in place that signify the room’s individuality.

One item that is nearing conclusion is the cell placement. The facility, measured at approximately 65,100 square feet, will house 112 beds. The beds are located in cells, which have mostly already been placed in the law center.

There are still some cells remaining to be delivered. They will arrive fully intact and require no assembly, and should be here this week.

“Every cell was shipped individually,” Johnson said. “It comes with everything.”

The facility is designed to allow some natural light to peek through the cells. This area also features a much different setup than the current jail. The control center is housed above the cells, allowing Clinton County jail personnel to view each cell from above through glass windows. There also will be monitors in the control room, allowing the personnel to get another view of each inmate.

“What we’re doing here is 100 percent night and day difference between what we’re doing now,” Clinton County Sheriff’s Deputy Steve Diesch said.

Diesch is organizing a manual to be employed for the startup of the jail, with many differences between the former and current facility expected to be noticed. Items as mundane as taking out the trash or doing the laundry have to be reorganized in the new facility.

The new facility will centralize much of Clinton County’s operations into one building, one of the reasons why voters approved a $22 million bond referendum in May 2016 for the new law center, which will feature the new jail, sheriff’s office, 911 communications center and Emergency Management office.

The construction did incur some cost overages, with the current contract amount around $23.9 million. Much of that work was necessary to comply with existing regulations, officials said Friday.

Another major reason for the new jail was to accommodate all of the inmates in Clinton County. With 112 beds, the new jail will dwarf the capacity of the current jail at 44 beds. Diesch said that last month the jail averaged 64 inmates per day, forcing more than 20 to be located outside of Clinton County.

“The way we open and run it today are hopefully how we run it 50 years from now,” Diesch said.

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Information from: Clinton Herald, http://www.clintonherald.com