Meetings underway to discuss new jail

The first session of community information meetings was held Thursday at Knox Middle School to present proposed plans for a new Starke County Jail. The public is invited to attend one of the two remaining sessions:
Tuesday, 6 p.m., Oregon Davis Jr./Sr. High School cafeteria
Wednesday, 6 p.m., North Judson-San Pierre High School auditorium
Topics discussed include: Historical and statistical data used to determine the desired inmate capacity, administrative offices and other functional requirements of a new jail; the proposed design of the new building; estimated construction costs and other expenses to build the facility; and sources for funding and its impact on residents of Starke County. A building site will not be chosen until plans to proceed with building the new jail are approved.
Starke County Community Jail Advisory Committee President Kathy Norem said, “Plans for a new jail are based on providing minimum housing standards required for inmates, supporting services and Sheriff’s Department offices at a cost that is affordable for residents of Starke County.”
In addition to Norem, the Jail Committee includes representatives from the general public as well as elected officials and law enforcement. DLZ, an Indiana-based architectural/engineering consulting firm, conducted the needs assessment and developed building requirements, Skillman Corp. estimated costs, and Umbaugh & Associates, independent financial advisors to government units, provided financial and funding requirements.
A question and answer period follows the presentation.
The current jail opened in 1977 with an inmate capacity of 47. Approved capacity has increased to 62 with no additions to the original structure. The average daily population from 2003 through 2011 has been at or above capacity. In 2011, average daily population was 70; on July 19, there were 79 Starke County inmates, with the excess housed in the Pulaski County Jail.