By TIM HORAN
Officials for both the city and the county met last Monday to discuss joint facilities. The discussion centers on a judicial center, hosting Dickinson County Sheriff, Abilene Police Department, district and municipal court services and the county jail.
Dickinson County Administrator Brad Homman reported on the meeting at the Dickinson County Commission’s regular meeting Thursday.
“They (city departments) have some needs as well,” Homman said. “Not only law enforcement but also municipal offices. They have started setting a little bit of money aside.”
He reported the city’s tentative goal is to try and do something about facilities in 2017.
“At that point some of their bond indebtedness drops off,” he said.
“We came to the assumption that it would be a good target date for all of us to look at,” Homman said.
He said that would give the county time to hire a consultant to see what’s needed and maybe come up with a design.
“The jail is bulging at the seams. Even though it has been remodeled it is still 1958 technology,” he said “Especially with the doors and things like that which need to be changed.
“There is still no way to get prisoners from point A to point B in a safe manner without crossing a public hallway,” Homman said.
“The question is where do we go from here?” he said. “At this point if we are able to adopt a budget and get some set aside money for the project. That’s the big step.”
Commissioner Craig Chamberlin posed asked the other commissioners if it is the intent of the commission to put some money aside for the future project.
“We’ve been putting some away, but not near the amount of money we need,” Myers said.
When asked what the commissioners specifically had in mind about a judicial building, Chamberlin said jail, judges and court services. However, the commissioners and Homman both said the discussion is in the preliminary stages. One scenario kicked around was a remodel of the courthouse once the court services, sheriff and jail were moved to allow for Abilene municipal offices.
“If this works out with a partnership with the city and meets their needs and meets our needs, certainly that’s great,” said Commissioner Lynn Peterson, a former city commissioner. “But if for some reason it doesn’t seem to be the match that we thought it would be, we’re still going to have to do something on our own.”