Jail project starting to move forward

OREGON – Ogle County has hired a company to do a site survey for the new jail in downtown Oregon and move utilities on a portion of Sixth Street the county is closing for the project.

The County Board recently approved spending not more than $45,000 for the firm Willett, Hoffman & Associates to do the work, which includes moving water and sewer lines. The Illinois Department of Transportation has given the county the OK for the closing of the street. This comes after the county and city of Oregon reached a deal for the county to take control of that portion of Sixth Street.

The new jail will be built on county-owned land just west of the Judicial Center. It would house between 180 to 200 prisoners and would cost a total of about $25 million.

But don’t expect to see the new jail construction start right away.

“It will be some time, probably this summer – mid to late summer,” said Ogle County Board Chairman Kim Gouker.

Late last year, Gouker said that to get the project completed by the end of 2019 or early 2020, they would need to break ground by the fall of 2018.

Once the jail is complete, it is possible that the Sheriff’s Department could move some functions from the Sheriff’s current office on First Street to the new jail, said Sheriff Brian VanVickle. He said it will be considered if it makes the operation more cost effective and efficient.

“That’s part of what we’ve been looking at, is a better way to do business,” he said.

Gouker, however, said there is “not much appetite” on the board for that move.

“It something I don’t think board members are too interested in doing,” he said.

VanVickle said the function of the current Sheriff’s Office will not change, but moving administrative functions to the new jail could make sense. He said much of the paperwork for the department already comes from the jail and Judicial Center, and that many people go to the jail believing the sheriff has his office there.

With an eye to future growth in the area of the new jail, the county’s Executive Committee has recommended the county purchase the property at 607 W. Washington St. for an amount not to exceed $167,000. Gouker said the county’s long-range plan – which looks out 50 years – includes buying properties to give future boards options when it comes to growth.

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