Benton County LEC opens three years after floods of 2008 - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Benton County LEC opens three years after floods of 2008


It's a milestone dozens of families in Benton County didn't want to miss.

"This is pretty much the end mark of what we were doing for our recovery efforts. And we wanted to be a part of it. And I wanted my family to be a part of it so they can see what the future of Vinton is going to hold," said Bud Maynard, who attended the opening of the Benton County Law Enforcement Center with his two daughters -- Alex and Allyson.

When the Cedar River spilled out of its banks in Vinton three years ago, homes and businesses were swamped -- and so was the Benton County Sheriff's Office. Inmates at the jail had to be evacuated to other county jails, and law enforcement officials have been working out of a temporary location in an old school in Vinton.

Saturday, after three years of waiting, families finally got a chance to explore the new Law Enforcement Center. The jail cells were a popular place to visit -- as long as the kids promised not to come back when they're older.

"We're just going to leave you in there, aren't we?!" Maynard joked with his girls.

The facility is a major improvement from the old sheriff's office, although it sits in the same location. As folks strolled through the complex, they couldn't help but reflect on how far their community has come.

"Standing where we are right now, we'd be just about shoulder-height with water," recalled Sheriff Randy Forsyth.

The Law Enforcement Center combines a little old with the new. They reused the limestones from the old jail to help build a wall around the entire perimeter of the new building -- higher than the flood of 2008. On top of that wall, the flood protection extends into the main building.

"The architect designed the building so that three feet of the building is actually filled. So it's basically water-tight except for the doors," said Forsyth. "So should it get up there we'd have to sandbag the doors, but we're good for about seven more feet of water than we had before."

For Benton County residents, this is one of the final steps in recovery. They're excited about the new complex, but they won't forget why its here.

The Sheriff's Department will begin moving into its offices Monday. Deputies will transfer the inmates Tuesday and Wednesday

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