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Kewaunee County Jail planning pauses

Planning for the new Kewaunee County public safety building will slow down due to budget concerns. Over the last year, the Kewaunee County Public Safety Facility Study Committee has taken an in-depth look at what it already has in place, visited similar buildings throughout the state, and developed a general layout for the future. The next step is to design the projected $30 million facility. Kewaunee County Sheriff Matt Joski says with the board facing tough budget decisions due to COVID-19 related losses, it would be wise to hit pause on the project for now.

Joski says he looks forward to working with the new board members and other county officials and residents to make a new public safety facility a reality. 



With all of the events unfolding throughout our nation, it is not surprising that some of the issues we had dedicated our time to, took a back seat. As with any organization we must be able to split our attention between those matters which need immediate attention and those which are long term in nature requiring both personnel as well as financial resources. Although our Public Safety Facility Planning Initiative falls into the second of these two categories, it is important to note that the challenge is still there as is the need for continued planning and study.


         This week, the Kewaunee County Board will be given a public presentation by our consultant regarding the work that has already been done, and the path that lies ahead. That path has no doubt been detoured by recent events, however the work that has been done remains relevant.


         The presentation this week will go over our work in Phase One of this project which focused on our current status. This included an evaluation of not just our existing Public Safety Building, but also the many local criminal justice systems which are impacted by the Jail and Public Safety Communications Center. While the study validated what many of us who have worked in this facility already knew, it was an important step to developing an effective plan for moving forward. This phase also resulted in the overall Jail capacity recommendation.


         Based on the outcomes of the Phase One portion of this study, we then embarked upon Phase Two. This phase provided us the opportunity to look at not just our facility and its limitations, but also to view other counties’ approach to overcoming similar challenges and arrive at an effective strategy for not just the housing of inmates, but even more importantly the various programs and services which will ultimately result in lower future incarceration  rates.


         As part of Phase Two we were able to develop a general layout of both the housing areas as well as Administrative and Operational spaces. It was also during this phase that we were given estimates of facility cost and to a certain degree staffing costs. All of these achievements were only possible due to the effective participation of the many dedicated members of the Public Safety Building Planning Committee.


         Typically, the next step would be to embark upon the Phase Three portion of this initiative, however as I stated, we have all been affected by recent events to the point where a pause may be in order. Phase Three would bring us into the building design stage of this project, which by any measure would require a substantial financial commitment from both a capital outlay as well as an ongoing budgetary perspective. However, being the eternal optimist I see this as an opportunity to spend a greater amount of time providing outreach and information to our community so that when the time does arrive, we can all move forward with a firm understanding of not only the need, but the resources that will be required to fill that need.


     I want to again thank those men and women who served on the planning committee. I look forward to working with each and every one of them in the future. I want to thank those members of the County Board who have also invested a great deal of time in the study of this project thus far. I have no doubt that this community understands that there is in fact a dire need to address the shortcomings of our current facility, and I am looking forward to what I hope is a continued dialogue for further understanding and awareness.

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