By Matt B. Walen
More than 150 Hill County taxpayers toured their newest investment Wednesday as the Justice Center opened its doors for the first time to the public.
Commissioner Pat Conway said the people who toured the new jail facility were generally pleased with the investment.
We had nice groups, a good turnout, Conway said. We were very pleased with the turnout and we received a lot of positive comments.
Tours of the new facility will continue today. The Optimist Club will hold a fund-raiser tonight from 6 to 11 for local youth groups as part of the spend a night in jail training session for the jailers and sheriffs deputies.
Conway said the people arrested will be processed at the jail, complete with fingerprinting and mug shot, and spend an hour in jail. Arrested people may bond out for $5 and will receive their fingerprints and mug shot as souvenirs, he said.
Hill County inmates from the eight-decade-old courthouse jail will be transferred to the new facility sometime during the week of Sept. 13, Conway said. But everything must be in place and the staff must be fully trained before the transfer can take place, he said.
There are some minor details still to be worked out before the facility is completed, Conway said. Some new lights have to be installed in the cell areas and the emergency radios have to be installed at the center, he said.
The courtroom also needs to be completed before the inmates can be arraigned at the new facility, Conway said. The raised bench needs to be installed for the judges, he said.
The grounds also need some work, Conway said. Grass will be laid out front and sod will have to be planted behind the facility on a slope to stop erosion, he said.
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.
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 sheriffs office is being constructed just west of the jail and will be completed by mid-October. Wadsworth Builders Inc. of Great Falls was awarded the contract to build the sheriffs office addition with a base bid of $127,000. The commissioners approved additions of air conditioning, a vestibule and brick work for a total cost of $134,900.
The sheriff deputies and personnel will move to the new office when the building is completed, Conway said.