If former night jailer Matt Joski gave you a tour of the Kewaunee County Jail over 20 years ago, he is glad he will not have to give any more as sheriff. Last week, the Kewaunee County Board voted 19-1 to not only move forward with the jail project but to issue over $20 million in debt issuance to get the ball rolling without a referendum. Replacing the state’s smallest and oldest jail has been a conversation topic for a long time, but something Joski has worked diligently on for the last seven years in his current role as sheriff. Even as the project moved forward, Joski had a hard time not reflecting on everything that had to happen to get to this point.
Getting past one finish line only gets the county to the starting point of another journey. Joski says it is their job to ensure they can build the best possible jail at the most cost-efficient price to make good on their promise to the county’s residents.
FROM SHERIFF MATT JOSKI
At the recent meeting of the Kewaunee County Board of Supervisors, the Board approved moving forward with the continued planning and construction of a new Jail Facility. Although the vote on this matter was an overwhelming 19-1 this was by no means a decision that was arrived at without great thought and extensive effort. It is important that the community is aware of the study, thought and effort the men and women of the board put into their decision.
The road to this vote began almost seven years ago and involved numerous evaluations of everything from inmate census and building integrity to facility design options and operational protocols. As I look at the stack of materials in my office which has grown with each and every study, meeting and jail tour I have a deep appreciation for the time and effort which lead to that evening’s vote. We should all be grateful for the time and effort of our board members both present and past that have been part of this process. A special thanks also goes out to both our County Administrator Scott Feldt as well as our Finance Director Paul Kunesh, for all of their efforts in providing accurate and timely financial options as well as accurate fiscal impact information. Finally, I would like to thank the staff here at the Sheriff’s Department for all of their years of input as well as continuing to operate within the limitations of our current facility while providing effective custody and safety for those in our care.
After the vote that evening, I returned to my office and realized what had been accomplished. It was more than just a vote about building a jail, it was a collaborative statement that we as a community are no longer content with languishing in past decisions or indecisions, but rather that we are now focused forward to the future. I have had so many words of encouragement and congratulations, but we are far from the finish line. Our work to build an efficient and effective facility at the absolute minimal impact to our community is just beginning. The number of meetings that it took to get us to this point, will be shadowed by the efforts and activities that lay before us.
It is also important to note that the ability and necessity for community input also continues. I know that there remains those who are not that excited about this project, and their voices are just as important. Just as we have tried to share updates and information so far in this process, we will continue to do so all the way up through our transition from our existing facility to the new facility. As I have offered in the past, I am always available for questions or comments.
As I have stated so many times in my visits around the county when confronted with the argument of what could have been done in years past, the best time to plant a tree is always twenty years ago, but the next best time is today. I have no doubt that future generations will thank us for our actions of today.