Porter County Sheriff's Department


What's Happening at The Porter County Sheriff's Department

 

Ground Breaking


 

Porter County Sheriff Dave Reynolds speaks to local officials who gathered

Thursday for the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Porter County Jail.

The 156,000-square-foot, 450-bed facility will be built on Ind. 49 south
 of U.S. 30. (Gregg Gearhart / The Times)

 

Officials looking forward to an end to the problems that have plagued current jail.

BY BOB KASARDA Times Staff Writer

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 federal law.

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.

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