Howard County looks at new jail

—Part 5: Local jail deemed oldest in state, 1908 next oldest


Howard County - Howard County is unique in that it is still using a jail that was constructed 135 years ago! 
Unfortunately, the entire facility has outlived and outgrown its usefulness. Rules and regulations have changed, making the jail nearly obsolete. 
When talk of a new jail comes up, most people don’t argue that a new facility is needed. 
But really, how can they? 
• The jail is the oldest still in operation in the state of Iowa, having been built in 1882. The next oldest is from 1908.
• The local lock-up is put to shame by all of its neighbors:
Winneshiek County: Built October 2000 has 40 beds
Chickasaw: 1956, 11 beds
Allamakee: Previous 1938, 14 beds. New facility to open May 2017 with 49 beds.
Fayette: 2002, 44 beds
Clayton: 2006, 44 beds (10 before)
Fillmore: 1950s, 19 beds
Mower: December 2010, 124 beds
• It is just a matter of time before the State Jail Inspector says, “Enough is enough” and shuts it down.
Jail Open House
Inmates were transferred out of the local jail to allow individuals the chance to see the conditions staff and prisoners deal with on a daily basis. 
Pat and Jack Ferrie were a few who attended the open house on March 18. Their thoughts after viewing the oldest jail in Iowa: Our impression is it is such that law enforcement can only do the best they can with the antiquated condition of the building. Safety and security needs to be addressed with the conditions we have now. People should attend the next open house to see for themselves.
Allamakee County
Two counties east of Howard is Allamakee. It has already gone through the same steps Howard County is currently taking.
During a tour of that facility in February, Sheriff Clark Mellick told task force members, “The State Jail Inspector said it was coming, it was coming, it was coming [the need for a new jail].” 
In 2012, the county home was closed, leaving the property available to move the jail from the top floor of the courthouse to the country.
A bond referendum vote was held in May 2015, which passed. Bids were let in January 2016. The facility is set to open in two months.
Howard County
A vote on a bond referendum not to exceed $5 million is set to take place on May 2, 2017. A majority vote of 60 percent is needed to pass. Absentee voting starts March 23, 2017 at the Howard County Auditor’s office.
Cost to property owners
Again, most individuals aren’t arguing the need for a new jail. But they are concerned about how it will affect their pocketbook.
• For residential:
Assessed value Estimated Tax Increase
$ 50,000 $14.80
$ 75,000 $22.20
$100,000 $29.61
$125,000 $37.01
$150,000 $44.41
$250,000 $74.01
$500,000 $148.03
• For multi-residential:
Assessed value Estimated Tax Increase
$100,000 $45.90
$200,000 $910.81
$300,000 $137.71
$400,000 $183.62
$500,000 $229.52
• For commercial/industrial:
Assessed value Estimated Tax Increase
$ 50,000 $23.95
$100,000 $47.90
$200,000 $95.80
$300,000 $143.70
$400,000 $191.60
$500,000 $239.50
• For agricultural:
Number of acres Estimated Tax Increase
  1 $0.36
 40 $14.37
160 $57.48
320 $114.96
640 $229.92
Anyone wishing to learn more about the proposed new jail facility can contact a task force member or Sheriff Mike Miner. 
Or a person can attend a local town hall meeting and/or attend the next jail open house on April 22 from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Town Meeting
March 23: Lime Springs City Hall, 7 p.m.
March 30: Featherlite Center, Cresco, 7 p.m. 
April 4: Protivin City Hall, 7 p.m.
April 6: Elma City Hall, 7 p.m.
April 18: Chester City Hall, 7 p.m.
April 20: Featherlite Center, Cresco, 7 p.m. 
April 25: Riceville City Hall, 7 p.m.

Cresco Times

Phone: 563-547-3601
Fax: 563-547-4602

Cresco TPD
214 N. Elm Street
Cresco, IA 52136

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