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County scraps Columbia Falls jail site

October 10, 2017 GMT

Facing stiff public opposition over a proposed jail site in Columbia Falls, the Flathead County commissioners on Tuesday voided a buy-sell agreement with Weyerhaeuser for 24 acres of open space and an office complex called the Cedar Palace.

The commissioners unanimously voted to send Weyerhaeuser a notice of unsatisfied contingency, a formal step needed to cancel the buy-sell agreement and get 2.6 million Weyerhaeuser property. At all of the meetings Columbia Falls residents voiced their opposition of having a jail in their community.

During the work session several of Flathead County’s district judges also expressed concern about courtroom security at the Justice Center, especially if the Sheriff’s Office were to relocate off-site.

Now it’s back to square one to figure out a long-term solution for chronic overcrowding at the existing jail at the Justice Center.

Other off-site locations also are being explored, including 40 acres of county property off Willow Glen Drive in Kalispell and 14 acres of county land at the former Kalispell Feed and Grain site south of Kalispell.