Sheriff John DeGeorge and jail Administrator Jamie Fenske reviewed the 2020 Minnesota Department of Corrections jail inspection report at the Fillmore County Board’s September 8 meeting.
The county’s jail facility was reduced to a 90-day facility in 2017. Since then several improvements and upgrades have been made to come into compliance with state requirements. Fenske said this inspection went really well. He explained why they were written up as non-compliant on a required 30-minute well-being check, adding that they do self audits and this was already corrected pre-inspection. They were rated 100% compliant on mandatory requirements and 90% compliant on essential requirements.
DeGeorge said with this good report the jail has been placed on biennial inspections, rather than annual. He credited Fenske and the staff with the good report and a well run jail.
The jail report did site the fact that there is no inside recreational space and a lack of program space. To correct this, significant remodeling or expansion of the facility would be necessary.
Commissioner Mitch Lentz asked if we can continue to remain a 90-day facility if we remain in compliance? DeGeorge explained they will never get a “yes,” but instead will get a list of things that we need to continue to work on. Commissioner Duane Bakke asked can we plan to remodel long term to continue to be a 90-day facility? DeGeorge suggested that building new/remodeling wouldn’t be much different in cost for a 90-day facility as for a 365-day facility. He continued, saying that they are operating pretty well as a 90-day facility.
DeGeorge said work release and STS inmates can be held longer than 90 days. He suggested they be patient as there are unknowns due to the state’s financial situation. He added that it is hard to come to the Board with a recommendation to spend millions of dollars when the financial situation is unknown. Bakke stated that the Baord needs long-term support before doing anything.
Commissioner Randy Dahl credited DeGeorge and Fenske with doing a good job, but didn’t know how much fixing they can continue to do. “We need an end place. I want to keep our prisoners local. The facility is old. Interest rates are at a historical low. The county’s only bond (courthouse) will be paid off in the next couple of years,” he shared, adding, “We should plan now and move forward sooner rather than later.”
DeGeorge suggested that he could reach out to the state and find out if we could build a 90-day facility and how different it would be from a 365-day facility. He noted that being a 90-day facility has worked pretty well for us. There are multiple prisoner classifications which will always require having more beds than we need.
By consensus, the board agreed to have DeGeorge talk to state officials to get more information and learn about more options.
The board approved an application for non-profit organizations for CARES funding. About $200,000 has been targeted for non-profit organization relief. Eligible applicants may request up to $10,000 in grant assistance for COVID-19 related losses and/or expenses. Awards will be based on the number of applicants and total dollars available.
Applications must be completed and submitted to the Fillmore County administrator’s office or submitted electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org by September 25.
Other business in brief
• Terry Schultz, Maintenance, reviewed two quotes from John Deere dealers for two-stage snowblower and 60-inch rotary broom attachments. The low quote from Preston Equipment in the amount of $7,600 was approved.
Schultz presented a quote from Tecta roofing specialists for roof repairs to the courthouse and the jail. The total cost for the courthouse in the amount of $18,215 was approved. The total cost for the jail in the amount of $10,495 was approved.
• A 3-year contract for 2021-2023 with IUOE (International Union of Operating Engineers) Local #49 was approved. Proposed COLA increases had been accepted by the union: 2% in 2021, 2.2% in 2022, and 2.5% in 2023.
• Approval was given to advertise in the newspaper for two weeks for request for proposal for the County Farm lease for 2021 and 2022. The County Farm acreage is 45.79 acres. Sealed bids will be received until October 1.
• An access permit to CR 28 for James Horihan, section 27, Newburg Township was approved for a farm field drive.
An access permit to CR 22 for Jerry Brown/Dan Dornink, section 5, Harmony Township was approved for a farm field drive.
An access permit to CR 8 was approved for Finseth Farms, section 11, Fountain Township for a semi-truck access.
• County Administrator Bobbie Hillery said she met with Jessica Erickson, director of nursing, to discuss items that could be purchased with CARES funding. One item is a portable refrigerator that could be used to transport vaccines into a community without electricity. Hillery said she will bring a list of items to the September 22 meeting.
• State statute requires an examination/audit to be conducted when a public officer/treasurer leaves office. Approval was given to engage CliftonLarsonAllen LLP to conduct this audit as required by state statute.