Allamakee County relies on voters for help in building new jail - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Allamakee County relies on voters for help in building new jail

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The Allamakee County Sheriff's Office is asking voters to help approve a bond referendum to pay for a new jail.

The jail is located on the 4th floor of the Allamakee County Courthouse. It's been at that location since 1939.

The county is asking voters to support a no more than $4.9 million bond referendum that would go towards building a new public safety center. The public safety center would be located on land the county already owns and will include 27 jail beds and more space for deputies.

Allamakee County Sheriff Clark Mellick said it's federal and state requirements, safety concerns and security concerns that have them asking the public for help.

"The upcoming mandates regarding our facility is just not going to be able to meet that criteria," said Mellick.

Mellick said he's also concerned about the public's safety. He said the booking process currently takes place in the dispatch center. The dispatch center is open to the public.

"So if you are in the Sheriff's Office getting a motor vehicle drivers license check, you could find yourself standing elbow-to-elbow with an arrestee," said Mellick.

Another concern with the current jail is space. John Grampovnik has worked with the Allamakee County Sheriff's Office for 8 years. He said he is currently one of four deputies that has a desk in a room intended for one person.

"We've outgrown this space. You can see here we have 1, 2, 3, 4 deputies working out of this room," said Grampovnik.

If the bond does not pass, Mellick said the county does have other options. The county could close the jail and transport criminals to other county jails. Mellick said that would cost more money per year than a new facility.

If the bond were approved, it would mean a property tax increase for those living in Allamakee County.

A home valued at $100,000 in Allamakee County would have an increase of about $26 a year.

For more information about the proposed Allamakee County Public Safety Center, click here.

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