Jail progress.

Masons started work on laying brick on the new Dickinson County Jail last week.

Work resumed in earnest on the Dickinson County Jail addition once masons arrived on scene last week to build walls.

“If you look out the window you’ll see walls going up on the west side of the booking area,” County Administrator Brad Homman said Thursday during the weekly county commission meeting.

“We should have about 13 masons on site today,” he continued. “We should start seeing some progress now. I’m happy to see things are moving along.”

Painters also have arrived. Most of the inside of the jail has been primed and one area already has received an epoxy coat “so it looks very nice,” Homman said.

Installation of sprinkler systems continues. Outside on the east side of the jail light poles are being trenched in, curb and guttering is getting “marked” out and flags have been placed to ensure a water line can be safely dug out and installed over to First Street.

“Things are moving along now and hopefully we’ll see some production and progress in the next few weeks,” Homman said.

Significant progress on the new jail had stalled for several weeks while masons finished another job in Manhattan.


Silent support

Homman said he had copies of letters sent to Dr. Brian Holmes, county health officer, and a “couple” he had received from people expressing their appreciation for the county’s COVID-19 response.

He noted there are people who appreciate the county’s efforts to “guide the public in the right direction.”

“Things are very contentious, especially when it comes to schools closing and kids. People are really tired of the COVID thing,” Homman said, but added he believes a vaccination soon will be available and thinks “we’re kind of on the home stretch.”


Don’t shoot the 


“Hopefully we can think of each other, think of our fellow citizens, do the right thing and hang in there a little bit longer,” Homman said. “It seems we’re getting to the point where we’re wanting to shoot the messenger. Dr. Holmes, John (Hultgren, county health department director), health department staff, the health nurses at the schools, everybody involved is just doing what they believe and are trained and what the science shows is best for all of us.

“I know everybody wants to blame somebody. If there’s ever a time we need to come together and be thinking of each other, now is the time. We just ask for some patience,” Homman said.

“I think as a community, as a county and as a nation we’re above this and we need to get beyond it,” he added.

In recent weeks, many comments have been posted on social media, in letters and emails and during a couple of commission meetings regarding the county’s response to COVID-19. Issues include the wearing of masks, quarantines and closing school buildings (which have since reopened with Abilene High School reopening tomorrow [Tuesday]).


Lots of letters

Commission Chairman Lynn Peterson said the county has received many letters and emails, including some “that are in support.”

The writers are “very appreciative of the steps that we’re trying to take and reduce the risk and work through this particular time,” he explained.

Peterson shared a comment made by Hultgren during the monthly department head meeting, “People do want this to be over, but the reality is it is not.”

Peterson also said he has received letters from people who are critical of the health department and its regulations.

“I think all of us — to a certain degree — like to control our own situation and our own business, our environment, where we work, where we go, where we meet, whether it’s activities or schools or churches. And it’s hard to balance some of those because you still have to consider the safety of everyone. It’s not just one particular age group. It’s all of the age groups,” Peterson said.

“Having said that,” he continued. “We as a commission review and look at possible modifications and changes we could get. But a lot of that is based on information and data. And we will continue dialogue with schools, school boards and cities within Dickinson County.”

Peterson also noted Dickinson County’s situation is not unique. The same thing is happening across the United States.

He said the commission appreciates the comments and feedback, but noted COVID-19 is a medical issue “so you look to the medical field for advice on this as far as safety.”

Commissioner Craig Chamberlin said he was not sure whether it was appropriate to bring it up, but stated, “I was a little disappointed with our community when we had to have a school nurse escorted by a police officer in and out of the building due to threats.

“I was really shocked to hear that,” he added. “There’s just no call for that.”

No further information was shared about that incident or where it occurred in the county.

Contact Kathy Hageman at reporter@abilene-rc.com.

Contact Tim Horan at editor@abilene-rc.com.

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