County finds location for new jail site

After putting years into the project of finding a new location to house inmates, Bourbon County is a step closer to constructing a new jail after making an offer on a piece of property in Fort Scott off E. 20th Street east of Highway 69 and behind the Shepherds Auto Group.

11-17 Jail

“I’m anxious to see if this is going to work for us,” presiding commissioner Barbara Albright said.

In a special executive session held last Thursday morning, the commissioners discussed the acquisition of about six acres of property and a building at 323 E. 20th Street for $200,000. The current business there will be required to close and leave within 60 days, while the county will be responsible for removing other equipment, storage containers and trailers located on the property.

The property is currently zoned commercial. Though an offer has been made, the deal will not be complete until after surveys and studies on the property are finished.

Architect Kevin Rost of the Goldberg Group met with the commissioners again Tuesday morning and showed them maps of the property displaying how the jail could fit on the property once existing structures and trees are removed.

“I’m glad we finally have a piece of property in the works,” Rost said. “I know it’s been a long time coming.”

But before ground can be broken, surveyors will come to look at the topography of the land, the boundaries and its property lines. An environmental study will also be conducted.

A geotechnical engineer will also be brought in to take soil samples and see what amount of rock is beneath the surface, which will determine the foundation of the structure and the cost of building it. Those services of the geotechnician could cost between $2,500 and $5,000, but a potential grant could help the county cover that expense.

“We’ll have to start with step one and then we’ll move forward,” Rost said of the project, saying it is a lengthy process.

From start to finish, the project should take about 12 to 14 months after a groundbreaking, depending on the weather as well as ground composition. A Universal Construction representative said he is concerned about staying within budget as construction prices rise, but Rost said if the county can offer some assistance, such as through grating, rock excavation or clearing the site, then they can cut some costs.

Rost assured Sheriff Bill Martin that though they will have to work to find ways to keep within budget, the jail will still have the space for 74 prisoners as well as an option for 16 more for a total of 90.

“I like what I’m hearing,” commissioner Lynne Ohara said. “I’m ready to get started.”

6 thoughts on “County finds location for new jail site”

  1. Just what we need, a 90 person jail right in town, close to schools and houses……..While the revenue generated from housing inmates might help the county coffers, I’m betting the quality of life in FS will suffer in one way or another…..

    1. The quality of life already suffers in this * hole of a town… least now they can safely secure all the town scum and keep them off the streets. ……

      1. FS is better than most towns. I don’t think having a larger jail will make any difference in getting the “scum” off the streets. That’s up the police to make arrest and the courts to convict. I’m all for cleaning up the town, getting rid of the tweekers and drunks, but the police have to make that a priority and the town needs to show support for it. You’re either part of the solution, or you’re part of the problem, right? The great thing about FS is that if you don’t like it, you can always just leave if/when you find a better place 🙂

    2. You realize that we do currently have a jail in town right? Is the new jail going to be any closer to houses and schools than the old jail.

      1. Bob, we currently have a sleepy, small-town jail. It’s run down and not very comfortable (so I hear). It only holds 20 people, and is located in the same building as the Sheriff’s dept and the courthouse. That all makes sense. The “new” jail will not be located with the Sheriff’s Dept or the courthouse, thus prisoner’s will be getting transported through town on a regular basis for arrest and court appearances. And the new jail won’t be a small-town jail, it will be facility to take in prisoner’s from the surrounding area, so it will be 80 people (for now)……. Trust me, the larger the jail, the further out of town it should be. There is absolutely NO BENEFIT to having a jail in your town, NONE. Property values will drop the closer you are to the jail, and with a larger inmate population you will have their families/homeboys moving into town (lose-lose)……..Jails are just like land fills, both are full of trash and should be as far away as possible………….

        1. I thought the idea was that we were paying to keep all those people in other towns already so it was going to save money over paying to keep them in other towns.

          But the transportation thing is a real problem. Seems like the jail would need to save a tremendous amount of money to make up for the csto fo transportation.

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