ROCHELLE — The fourth public meeting regarding the proposed new Ogle County Jail was held at Rochelle City Hall Wednesday evening. About 25 citizens and several county board members were given a presentation on the project from Ogle County Chairman Kim Gouker, along with Long Range Planning Committee (LRPC) Chair Don Griffin and Ogle County Sheriff Brian VanVickle.
Griffin began by explaining the process of assessing the county’s long-term needs started in the late 1990s. The current jail now has 109 beds, which is a significant increase from the original 15 detainees it could hold when constructed in the 1960s.
VanVickle explained the project’s concept began with a needs study nearly two years ago. It was determined the jail would need to have 150 beds to accommodate the inmate population and between 180-200 beds over the next 20 years.
Along with discussions of the site considerations, the slideshow presentation featured several conceptual pictures of the proposed jail. A key advantage discussed with the proposed new jail is the connection to the Ogle County Judicial Center, reducing transportation and personnel costs.
VanVickle explained during the planning process with the consultant, it was important that the new jail be efficient.
“The one big key thing we stressed a lot about is being efficient. Eighty percent of our budget is salary and benefits,” VanVickle said. “The one thing we really stressed to [consulting firm] is that we wanted a facility efficient to build. What they came back with is that we won’t need to hire any additional employees to work the floor, turn the keys, and check the cells. The only thing they came back with was one additional maintenance employee. That’s one big thing as far as the planning process we looked at.”
Gouker displayed several county justice centers that are connected to their judicial centers, including Kane, DuPage, and McHenry Counties, which are all surrounding Chicago. Several counties, including Stephenson, Will, and Peoria counties all have to transport their inmates between the jails and courthouses.
The project is estimated to be between $22 and $28 million, partly funded with existing funds and the issuance of general obligation bonds. Gouker said the host fees received from the two landfills located in the county will be the income source to repay the bonds.
The next phase will be the actual construction design, which could take up to a year.
Additional public meetings are scheduled for Thursday, March 2 at the Forreston Public Library, Tuesday, March 7 at Mt. Morris Village Hall, and at the Oregon Coliseum on Thursday, March 9. All meetings are scheduled for 7 p.m.