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Public Meetings On Jail Proposal Begin

As jail overcrowding has been an issue of concern in Houghton County for many years, local residents will have two more opportunities to voice their thoughts and concerns on the current proposed solution.

Residents voiced their opinions this week at the Laird Township Hall in Alston and two more public meetings are set for next week in Hancock and Calumet.

 

In past years, voters have turned down several proposals to build a new jail, however the overcrowding problem still exists.

The county is attempting to solve that problem by adding on to the existing building which would double the facility’s capacity if approved and also link the building directly to the courthouse.

“We’ve been operating a jail since we’ve become a county. We’ve been in this central Houghton neighborhood for 140 years. So it’s important that we be at or near the courthouse in order to run it efficiently. Ideally, being on site for a jail is very desirable,” said Houghton County Sheriff Brian McLean.

Blueprints were drawn up earlier this year and presented to the county board of commissioners, who is expecting to review a cost estimate at the upcoming April meeting before casting their votes on the matter in May.

If approved by the board, plans of the addition would be presented to the state for its approval.

In the meantime, the Copper Country League of Women Voters is gathering public input and concerns with another meeting scheduled for Tuesday in the Hancock Central Auditorium at 7:00 PM, and a third set for Thursday of next week at the CLK Schools Common area in Calumet at 5:30 PM.

If approved on the county and state levels, voters will ultimately decide in the November election whether or not the addition will be the solution to the overcrowding problem.

If the proposal is passed, the completed facility could be in operation by 2020.

McLean said, “There’s bidding, construction will probably go at least a year. So we’d be looking at a minimum of 18 months, probably two years.”

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