Commissioners approve jail outdoor recreation area

Published 10:46 am Tuesday, June 21, 2011

After tabling the issue at their last meeting, the Freeborn County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved a proposal from the Freeborn County sheriff to construct an outdoor recreation area for jail inmates.

The recreation area, which will be available for both regular Freeborn County jail inmates and detainees through U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, will be where the current loading dock is behind fencing on the southeast side of the building. It will be visible to the public from the street but under jail supervision.

Kindler said improvements needed to make the project a reality include window guards, potential security camera upgrades, incidental expenses and upgrades to fencing — including razor wire.

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During the meeting Tuesday, the commissioners voiced approval for Freeborn County Sheriff Bob Kindler to move forward with a quote from Century Fence Co. to provide the fencing upgrades for about $23,000. Kindler said he was unable to receive a second bid for this part of the project.

Kindler estimated the cost for the window guards to be about $2,700, the camera system to be $5,000 and the incidental costs to be about $1,000. He said there is a possibility the camera system won’t have to be upgraded.

He said he hopes to have two of the current programmers at the jail be upgraded so that they are responsible for supervision in the new recreation area. No new employees would have to be hired to operate the space.

The upgrades could be paid through vending machine profits.

Kindler and officials hope the new recreation area may lead to housing additional detainees locally for a more long-term basis.

Freeborn County is paid $77 a day from the federal government per detainee. The costs of the recreation area improvements could quickly be covered under this payout, he said.

In a previous interview, Kindler noted that each year the county has contracted with ICE to house federal detainees at the jail, it has received a deficiency during the jail inspection for not having a recreational area.

In other action, the board:

• Approved the re-issuance of bonds: one, for the General Obligation Criminal Justice Center Bond issue for about $7.5 million and the second for the Law Enforcement Center Bond issue for about $5.9 million.

Kluever said with the re-issuance of the bonds, Freeborn County will save more than $1.1 million in interest costs.

The board will vote on an additional bond re-issuance in July.

• Awarded a contract to Freeborn Construction Inc. of Albert Lea for $1.092 million for the grading, culvert replacement and aggregate surfacing on Freeborn County Road 12 from County Road 17 to County Road 46.

County Engineer Sue Miller said Freeborn Construction was the only company to bid on the project. The company’s initial bid came in at about $1.33 million, which was an almost 30 percent increase above the engineer’s estimate for the project of about $1.026 million.

Miller said staff evaluated the prices bid and also tried to find out why there was only one bid.

She said it appeared the bonding market has been affected by the economic climate and there were other projects bidding after this project that might be more suitable to some of the contractors’ schedules.

She also noted that the impact of fuel escalation may have played a factor in the bid price disparity from the engineer’s estimate, which was calculated last winter.

Miller said that through some contract modifications — for an alternative design for temporary erosion and permanent erosion and sedimentation control, along with allowing the contractor to salvage the bituminous material — a supplemental agreement reduced the contract amount to $1.092 million. This is about $235,000 lower than the initial bid.

Miller said she will have to submit a justification letter to the Minnesota Department of Transportation explaining the disparity.

• Approved hiring a full-time public health nurse to replace the position vacated by new appointed Freeborn County Public Health Director Sue Yost.

• Approved hiring one Records Department employee to fill an upcoming vacancy created by the retirement of Ruth Ann Severtson, who has worked for the county for at least 30 years.

• Approved changes to the county’s septic system loan application and ordinance establishing an individual sewage treatment system loan program.

Kluever said changes include increasing the potential loan amount from $12,000 to $15,000. Construction must occur within 180 days of applying for the loan, instead of one year. The interest rate was also lowered from 7 percent to 6 percent.

For properties that have the loan, it must be paid in full prior to the transfer of that property. The total amounts of assessments, liens and loans shall not exceed the estimated market value of the property.

• Approved a lot consolidation for Mark Attig.

• Authorized transport officers to be eligible for police and fire fund enrollment in the Public Employees Retirement Association.

• Authorized repairs to county ditches 62, 75, 35, 31, 15, 39, 23, 79, 5, 63, 16, 36 and 8, along with judicial ditches 22, 20, 25, 26 and 6.

Dealing with a potential shutdown

The Freeborn County Board of Commissioners will have a workshop at 1 p.m. July 1 — in the event of a state government shutdown — to discuss how the county will proceed in its departments that overlap with state responsibilities.
Freeborn County Administrator John Kluever said he hoped by that time, the effects of the shutdown will be better defined.