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Sheriff's Office receives Safe & Sober award

Fri, Apr 13th, 2007
Posted in Government

PRESTON - County Sheriff Daryl Jensen informed the county board at their April 10 meeting that Fillmore County was the only county in Minnesota to receive a first place award in the 2006 Safe & Sober Challenge. The award is in recognition of improvements in traffic safety and comes with a $3,000 mini-grant from the state Office of Traffic Safety. Jensen expects the grant to be used to pay for overtime and a light bar and radar equipment. Jensen recognized the efforts of Deputy Leif Erickson as the reason Fillmore County received the award.

The board approved a resolution for the sheriff's office to enter into a grant agreement with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety for "Safe and Sober Communities" during the period from October 2007 to September 2008. Jensen explained that the funds will be used for seat belt and speed enforcement. The county will work in partnership with the cities of Preston and Chatfield.

The board approved the purchase of three new squad cars from Zeimetz Motors, Inc. of Spring Valley. Two of the Chevrolet Impalas will be unmarked and one will be marked. One of the vehicles to be replaced is a 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Jensen said that it could be available to the county for another use. Commissioners will possibly use that vehicle to fulfill a request for another vehicle from the Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD).

Earlier in the meeting, Feedlot Officer Mike Frauenkron had requested a transfer of funds to the SWCD for the purpose of obtaining another vehicle capable of running on muddy fields and pastures for the field technician. Commissioner Randy Dahl had wondered at that point if one of the retiring sheriff's vehicles could serve that purpose. Chuck Amunrud agreed that it would be advantageous to use the sheriff's vehicle if possible. The board left open the possibility of working something out between the two departments.

Commissioners Tour

County Jail

Sheriff Jensen lead the commissioners through the county jail pointing out deficiencies with the nearly forty year old facility. The jail has twenty four beds, but is staffed and designed to house eighteen inmates. There is one newer area that was built in 1995 which was intended for juveniles, that is now used usually to house women or low risk inmates. Jensen noted that the planned use for juveniles never worked out because of a lack of the specific staffing needed. Most of the inmates at the jail are male.

Jensen pointed out problems in repairing out of date plumbing, obtaining replacement valves, deteriorating hinges and bars on cell doors, and other maintenance difficulties. Inmates hang sheets around toilet facilities to have some privacy and dignity. Cells house two to six inmates. Each cell has a camera to view the cell on a monitor. Jensen expressed concern about lack of programming, space and staff. The jail is inspected each year and will be this May. The sheriff insisted that 90% of the inmates are people like you and me who have been caught making a mistake.

Jail Administrator Jamie Fenske acknowledged that there is a problem with work release inmates smuggling contraband into the jail. Often, they are threatened by inmates that are not on work release to supply them with contraband items. No tobacco is allowed in the jail. More and more individuals are doing mandatory jail time for DUI's. Often people serve their sentence by appointment on weekends when the jail has space. Fenske noted that programming involves teaching cognitive skills, religion, GED work, or working to solve problems associated with chemical dependency. Male inmates only have access to television in the library. Women have a TV in their cell. Jensen said the most common pastime is a deck of cards.

Jensen said that for now they keep repairing and fixing. He suggested that it would be good to conduct a jail study. Two years ago the cost of building a new jail was estimated. Chuck Amunrud said that at that time it would have cost $50,000 per bunk.

Dispatcher Gary Skaggs explained the systems for incoming 911 calls. All calls are recorded as sometimes the caller is unable to call back. If the calls are made on a land line phone, the map with the location pin pointed shows up on a monitor. Cell phones only establish the transmitting tower location requiring the dispatcher to get more information.

Other Business

• Jon Martin, Sanitation, asked the board to consider a proposal to build an office inside the recycling building. The board approved the low bid from Hahn Lumber Co., Harmony, at a total of $3,465.00 as recommended by the Solid Waste Committee.

• The board accepted the resignation to retire from Joyce Leutink effective September 28, 2007. Public Health Director Sharon Serfling noted her service of about 30 years. As Lead Accounting Technician, the longer notice was requested to find a replacement, who may require on the job training.

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