Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Dan Reed
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

County Board moves to proceed with new jail


After several studies and countless meetings, the Carlton County Board of Commissioners voted to proceed with final plans for a new jail construction. The size of the jail, the total cost of the project, the location of the building, and the means of funding it are still to be determined.

The vote of 4-1 with Commissioner Proulx voting nay came after a presentation by Sheriff Kelly Lake, BKV consultant Bruce Schwartzman, County Attorney Lauri Ketola, County Deputy Paul Coughlin, and County Coordinator Dennis Genereau.

Sheriff Lake gave a lengthy presentation in which she pointed out, “Our Carlton County Jail, built in 1979, is the oldest jail in Northeastern Minnesota. Remodeling and repairs to the current jail could not meet the current Department of Corrections regulations for space and current programming needs. Many of the recommendations from the Jail Study are being implemented and have made an impact in multiple incarcerations by the same offender.”

She went on, “Lack of space hampers us daily. We can wait no longer. The DOC can move at any time to limit our use of the facility. Female inmates and the long term population, about 80% of our current jail population, would have to be boarded out to other jails. A second move by the DOC could sunset our facility. Mahnomen County is in this predicament currently.”

Consultant Schwartzman added, “Currently the jail uses 68 beds but has gone as high as 79 beds. This population is housed in the Jail, boarded out to other County jails, or have extended stays at NERC (Northeast Regional Corrections in St. Louis County). Making improvements in judicial processing and onsite programming has resulted in an estimate that an 80 to 100 bed facility is needed. There were 1,790 bookings in 2017. My firm BKV will make a major presentation at the Committee of the Whole on May 7 and will suggest the size, cost, and location of a new County jail.”

He continued, “The area directly north of the Courthouse is being looked at since a Jail is recommended to be adjacent to the Courthouse for the movement of the jail population back and forth to the courtroom easily. Existing garages around the parking lot will have to be removed and the parking lot expanded.”

At the end of the Jail Study update Sheriff Lake asked the County Board for a vote to proceed for making plans for a new jail. Commissioner Proulx asked how much the proposal will cost. The sheriff responded that the present jail is not working and that a new jail was needed.

County Coordinator interjected, “We can estimate a cost but we need to know how much you are willing to spend?”

In other County Board news Enbridge Pipeline has requested to use Chub Lake to draw water for dust control during Line 3 construction and installed pipe testing. The Chub Lake Association has lobbied against the proposal because of the threat of spreading Eurasian milfoil to other lakes. The DNR is asking for public input for granting the request but has suggested the pipeline company use the St. Louis River to draw their needed water.

The County Board has been asked by Enbridge for approval of the use of Chub Lake because of the County Park on said lake. The County Board went on record to not support Enbridge’s proposal to use Chub Lake waters.


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