Undersheriff Bill Martin, Bobby Reed of the Southeast Kansas Regional Correctional Center (SEKRCC) and James Cianciaruso of JE Dunn Construction came before the county commissioners in order to propose planning for a new jail. “There’s been a trend that we’ve been seeing in our communities,” Cianciaruso said. “Increasing jail population, decreasing population and an aging facility.”
Cianciaruso presented his company’s practices in designing and managing the construction of new jail facilities, including the JE Dunn’s INTown Purchasing Program, in which the company hires local companies and workers as subcontractors. “We really want to get to know the communities that we’re in” Cianciaruso said. Cianciaruso added that any money invested in JE Dunn, especially public money, would be reinvested as much as possible back into the community in which the money originated. “We don’t just go back and forget about you,” said Cianciaruso, who added that the company’s goal is to work with local contractors instead of bringing in workers from Kansas City.
Cianciaruso cited as evidence the company’s work with Reno County Kansas, with which the company worked for 7 years to find a solution the community found satisfactory. “We worked with those communities for many years to help get studies done” said Cianciaruso, and added that the company worked with the county and community to determine how much money the county felt it could spend on a new facility. “That’s the essence of what you’re trying to achieve,” Cianciaruso said of striking a balance between a facility that serves the community properly, but that is not a “country club.”
Of the SEKRCC, Cianciaruso said that from what he had seen there were “some definite issues” with the current structure, and that there had been some “band-aids” added to the structure to “mitigate incidents” between the population of the jail and the people in the surrounding community. “The reality is that people don’t want to think about the fact that they have to support a jail [rather than a school or other public facility], but a jail is an important part of the community,” Cianciaruso said, especially regarding the safety of the jail staff. Cianciaruso said that he did not want to be presumptuous and say that Bourbon County needed a new jail, but rather that he would like the chance to view the situation and help the county make a decision.
Commission Chairman Allen Warren said that his biggest issue regarding the project was that Sheriff Ron Gray was not present at the meeting and had not mentioned the project in prior meetings, to which Martin replied that the project had been delegated to him. “He hasn’t ever looked at me and said ‘stop what you’re doing,'” said Martin. Warren replied that since Sheriff Gray was the elected official, he should be directly involved in the project proposal.
Commissioner Harold Coleman asked about the life expectancy for a new jail if the county were to invest in one, and whether it would be worth the investment. Cianciaruso estimated the new jail would be sufficient for the county’s needs for 20 years, but could not give a definite number. Regarding the return on investment for the building of a new jail, Cianciaruso said that though “boots on the ground” are the most effective in reducing conflicts between inmates, a more technologically-advanced jail could help reduce staffing costs. Coleman pointed out that if a new jail were built now and the jail population doubles, the county would be back to square one again in a few decades. Cianciaruso agreed that this was a risk. “You only get one time to do it right, and you need the best information in front of you [in order to make a decision],” Cianciaruso said. Cianciaruso added that a new jail could be built in such a way to make future additions less costly.
Bobby Reed of the SEKRCC added to the discussion that new laws regarding violation of probation laws might cause a “jump” in the number of inmates at the jail, adding to the current problem of overcrowding. Reed explained that the new laws require a 5-day sanction for the first violation, and a 120-day sentence for a second violation.
In addition, Commissioners Warren and Coleman met with Carolyn Flynn, Permit Specialist at EnBridge. The company is working with Shafer, Kline and Warren in order to put in a new 36 inch pipeline for crude oil, which will run perpendicular to Yellowstone Rd. “The only road they’re going to cut is Yellowstone,” said Flynn. Holly Powers of Shafer, Kline and Warren explained that any pipeline 12 inches or larger requires an open trench to be cut. Powers said that bores have a tendency to collapse, and that the company is trying to avoid “failures down the road” by cutting a trench for the pipe rather than boring through the ground to place the pipe. Flynn added that an open cut would be less expensive than boring. Warren mentioned that the new pipeline would run parallel to an older pipeline that he estimated had been put in during the 1950s. Warren moved that the transmission pipelines permit be signed to allow EnBridge to put in the line, and Flynn wrote out a $1,600 check for the price of the permit. The work is estimated to take about 3 months.
In other business:
- Wally Maples, Caretaker at Elm Creek Lake, reported that he has replaced siding on the exterior of the caretaker’s house at Elm Creek, and presented several ideas for development of the facilities at the lake. Maples suggested the possibility of building a shower and bathroom facility at the site, to which Warren replied that they county would need to look at revenue generated by the lake during the season, then make a decision on what could or could not be done regarding improvements. Maples reported that during the week of July 4th, the lake generated $300 on rentals for just one cabin.
- Travis Clinesmith of Murphy Tractor attended the meeting in order to discuss the buyback of one of the county’s graders. The buyback would total approximately $110,000. The county will be replacing the machine, with which it has had several problems, prompting the county’s use of the buyback option.
- County Attorney Terri Johnson updated commissioners concerning possible ideas for alternative sentencing to help reduce jail population.
- Register of Deeds Lora Holderidge attended the meeting in order to explain to commissioners that the county’s booth at the fair is giving away information pamphlets on local government, but that the materials were given to the county at no cost to the county. Holderidge emphasized that the county had not spent any money on giveaways for the booth.