Wood County officials take steps to proceed with jail study
By Rapids City Times staff
WISCONSIN RAPIDS – An item has been placed on the Aug. 6 Wood County Executive Committee agenda that would provide funds for a new jail study.
“That’s as far down the road as we have gotten on this thing,” said Wood County Board Chair Doug Machon. “There has been a lot of talk about a new jail, but the process is actually beginning for real. When we are talking about doing a $25,000 study on the need of a new jail, and other dynamics of a new jail – size, location, things like that – you are starting to get serious about that discussion.
“It’s moving from the fringe into the center now, it is coming forward on the agenda for the county board. It is going to be a big issue. It’s going to be a huge topic. I mean, you are talking about a big capital investment. If you talk about building a jail these days, you are talking about millions of dollars.”
The study will give the county the necessary information on items, such as costs for housing inmates in other counties, location for new jail construction, and other factors, that will help county officials make an informed decision on the matter.
“I hear a lot of anecdotal evidence that we need a new jail; every law enforcement person that you talk to that is a patrol man or on the street is telling you we need a new jail, we are overcrowded. You hear it from some of the staff. That is anecdotal to me; give me some evidence. I want to see some numbers. I am not saying that we do or don’t,” Machon explained. “For us to proceed effectively, we need to have some statistics, some evidence… We need to have those numbers in front of us, so we can make some informed decisions.”
The move comes following a July 15 Wood County Public Safety meeting, in which the committee came up with a plan to reallocate budgeted funds that will provide for the jail study.
“There are a lot of questions there,” Machon said. “We are going to make an informed decision with good facts, one way or the other and come to the right decision. We will wait for the study, and we will see what the recommendations are, and we will make the next step after that – the Public Safety (Committee) will.”