Proposed justice center would be highly efficient

[Source: “Proposed justice center would be highly efficient,” Press Citizen, 1 May 2013, by Lonny Pulkrabek, sheriff of Johnson County.]

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Lonny Pulkrabek, Johnson County Sheriff

In November of 2005, Johnson County received a report from the Durrant Group that looked at this project and looked at four different locations:

• Site 1 was at the existing courthouse and gave a cost range of $61.2 million and $66.8 million and included the need for 16 new staff members.

• Site 2 was down near the current county Health and Human Services and Administration buildings and had an estimated cost of between $70.1 million and $76.5 million and 21 new staff positions.

• Sites 3 and 4 were green field sites along Highway 218 near Oak Crest Hill Road and Highway 218 near the Joint Emergency Communications Center. Those sites came in at estimated costs of between $61.9 million and $67.7 million dollars and showed a need for 19 new staff positions.

The facts are that the price has been whittled way down to the bare bones in order to make it more palatable to the voters.

We have planned a highly efficient building that will only need one new staff member in the jail and two in the courthouse for increased security. The total amount the county is asking voters to bond for is $43.5 million dollars.

The proposal is efficient in that inmates can be simply moved in and out of the courthouse through a secure elevator and corridor that does not force the public to be in close proximity to the inmates such as they are now as people with limited mobility share the entrance and elevator in the current courthouse with deputies and inmates.

It allows use of the existing beautiful iconic courthouse.

Some have said to tear it down. A non-starter for me.

Some have said to turn it in to a museum. The museum issue is a nice thought, if you do not mind taxes being raised to maintain the old courthouse as a museum.

This project that is planned makes the justice center a safe and secure environment and creates the space to take Johnson County forward for years to come. It allows us to stop renting space which is similar to renting an apartment and actually buy a project just as many people buy houses and have equity to show where the hard earned dollars goes.

No more shipping more than $1 million dollars annually out of the county.

This allows us to keep the inmates, staff with compassion and stop moving them out of county away from their families, friends and attorneys.

It allows us to create a safe environment for the staff working where people come to deal with issues such as divorce and child custody that can be very heated and divisive.

It allows us to make the courthouse a safe and secure environment where our jurors come to serve in their civic capacity.

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About the Author. Lonny Pulkrabek is sheriff of Johnson County.

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Categories: Commentary, Endorsement

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