By Matt B. Walen
No specific date of opening the new Hill County Justice Center and summer vacation time requests in the sheriffs department has slowed the transition team in completing its task of training personnel.
Hill County Sheriff Tim Solomon said his staff has been short-handed lately due to personnel requesting and taking vacation time.
Undersheriff Don Brostrom Jr. and detention officer Jamie Ross told the Hill County Commissioners Tuesday afternoon they have only been able to dedicate part-time efforts to the transition plan lately because of the workload in the sheriffs department.
Brostrom and Ross are spearheading the transition team in charge of making the move to the new facility a smooth process.
Commission Chairman Pat Conway said the transition team needs to continue to work on the policies to insure that the facility will be able to open as soon as possible after the construction is completed.
Brostrom said they have the majority of the policy manual completed but needed to have it reviewed by the commissioners and county attorney.
The commissioners and Hill County Attorney David Rice will review the new jail policy manual before sending the paperwork to Montana Associated Counties (MACo) for a second review. MACo will review the material because it helps insure Hill County.
Training the personnel working at the jail will be a major portion of the preparation in opening the facility, Ross said. He said he has been writing the job task descriptions and training manuals for the staff but had to return to his duties as a detention officer.
We need to have the procedure manual completed before training begins, Ross said.
Solomon said he had some concern about training personnel on the facilitys operation before the department was ready to move the inmates to the new jail.
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 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 located south of the Hill County fairgrounds. Swank has completed the project.
Solomon said he still is concerned about operating two offices with his small staff.
The county will open bids July 15 at 2p.m. for the construction of the sheriffs office to be built near the jail portion of the Justice Center, Conway said. Until the county finds out what the price tag for the extra building would be, the transition team will have to continue completing the training manual, he said.
An open house will be planned to show the local taxpayers the new facility, Conway said. Tours during the open house will be both in the morning and afternoon, he said.
Conway said they will conduct one more walk through with Earl Ackerman, the engineer with LHeureux Page Werner responsible to oversee the project, and project architect Steve LHeureux.
The facility will be turned over to Hill County personnel once the final walk through is completed, Conway said.
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 commissioner are also considering a recent bid of $1,175 for motion detectors to be installed about the three main cell blocks in case there is ever an escape.