Officials looking forward to an end to the problems that
have plagued current jail.
BY BOB KASARDA Times
VALPARAISO -- Not long after he took over as county
commissioner in 1977, William Carmichael learned that the high security
section of the then, 5-year-old jail was already out of compliance with
The discovery turned out to be just the first in a long series of
problems at the downtown facility that now suffers from overcrowding and
inadequate office space for the county sheriff's department.
As a result, Carmichael, who now serves on the county council, made a
point to be on hand Thursday afternoon to take part in a ceremonial
groundbreaking on a new jail that promises to finally bring all the
problems to an end.
"Long overdue," he said.
Large dump trucks full of stone rolled by the small group of county
officials and guests who gathered underneath two small tents pitched at
the 20-acre construction site immediately north of the Pratt Industries
plant along Ind. 49. Site preparation is already under way for the
construction of the 156,000-square-foot, 450-bed jail and sheriff's
department. At $37.5 million, the project is by far the largest in the
history of county government.
Jokingly taking credit for the bright sunshine and warm temperatures,
County Commission President Brian Gesse spelled out the five-year
history of the project from its roots with the Jail Research Advisory
Committee through the award of the construction bids just last month.
Many of those who contributed along the way were recognized by both
Gesse and Porter County Sheriff Dave Reynolds.
"They saw we had a problem and they did something about
it," Reynolds said.
While many expected that a project of this type and size would
attract controversy and resistance, Reynolds said that did not happen,
in large part because of the commitment by those involved in the
planning. He also gave credit to the residents of the county who are
going to pick up the tab for the project.
Considering that it is expected to take two years to complete the new
building, Reynolds also drew attention to the members of his department
who continue to work within adverse conditions both at the jail and the
administrative offices. There were 225 inmates housed Thursday at the
jail, which has a legal capacity of 130, he said.
There is not much relief in sight until the new jail is complete, he
said. It just does not make sense to put more money into a building that
will be vacated in another couple of years.
"We're trying to do just the best we can," Reynolds said.