By Matt B. Walen
The new Hill County Justice Center will be home to the inmates, jailers and dispatchers only, according to the county commissioners.
The cost of building the 72-bed jail has taken most of the money approved by Hill County voters, said Commission Chairman Pat Conway.
Hill County voters passed a jail bond issue on the third try for a new $4.4 million 72-bed county jail/sheriffs complex during the June 1996 election.
The contract calls for the construction completion to be May 31.
The commissioners were expecting to meet with Earl Ackerman of LHeureux Page Werner of Great Falls later today to review the construction progress. The construction will be completed probably later this week, Conway said.
The county doesnt have enough money to build the sheriffs complex or the proposed added deputies office space/locker room, Conway said.
The Hill County Sheriffs Department will continue to work out of its office in the lower level of the county courthouse, Conway said.
The commissioners have been working with Sheriff Tim Solomon and his deputies in an attempt to develop alternative plans to keep the deputies near the new jail facility.
The construction costs for the new facility came in higher than expected, said Commissioner Kathy Bessette.
Our first priority was to get the new jail built, she said.
Costs include land purchase, architecture drawings, bonding and construction of the facility.
Once the facility is completed there will still be a delay in moving the inmates from the old jail to the new jail, Conway said.
It could be operational, but the training has to occur, Conway said.
The jailers will have to learn how to operate the high-tech instrument panels in the observation area. The transition and training period will be from early June through mid-July.
The commissioners awarded the $3.9 million jail construction contract to Swank Construction of Valier in late March 1998. LHeureux Page Werner of Great Falls was hired to design the new facility, which will have a green color on its all-weather metal siding.
The new jail facility will take care of the many hazardous problems the jailers currently face in the eight-decade old facility connected to the courthouse.
The jail facility will have six separate jail locations including minimum, medium and maximum security areas for males, womens cell area, a dormitory area for working people who are ordered held in the jail at night and a juvenile cell area completely separated from the other cells.
One main guard station allows the watch crew to view inmates in all the minimum to maximum security cells.
The new facility will also be able to house four male juveniles and two female juveniles, something the county wasnt able to do in its current facility.