Welcome aboard one more time as we once again face a cold wet weekend. We did not get any snow, and there appears to have been a lot of that dumped on the ground over the past 24 hours, so I guess we cannot gripe too much. I do seem to recall in last week’s column that I mentioned the need for lots of sunshine and warm temperatures for an extended period of time. I think I will stand by those words this week. Who knows? Maybe someday we will see such conditions.
Once again I am not sure where to start for this column. Even worse right now, I am very short on material for this column. I may have to jump on the soapbox once again and comment on issues that affect the Sheriff’s Office. In a way, I hate to do this, but many readers have told me they enjoy the exposure to some of our problems as it gives them a much better understanding of the Sheriff’s Office. And then again, some of my readers have told me they hate it when I jump on the soapbox: they want hard news.
We have a bit of good news to report. It appears that the doctor will release Deputy Jimmy Bench back to full duty sometime next week. In his last visit to have the stitches removed, the doctor told him that the injury was looking good after the surgery and there would not be any lasting ill effects due to the wound. He also told Jimmy he would give him a full fit-to-return-to-duty statement next week. We can hardly wait and I know Jimmy is eager to get back to work. Some men are born to be lazy, but Jimmy Bench is not included in that group of men.
In other news, the members of the Pulaski County Commission heard a presentation on the building of a new jail on Monday, March 22 at 10:30 a.m. The presentation had first been set for 9:30 a.m. but the person presenting the study must drive down from the northern part of the state and he requested more drive time. I have already covered several points about this meeting in prior columns, but maybe I should once again cover a few points.
The plan that Lawrence Goldberg has drawn up presents a 124-bed jail with a 92-bed wing ready to be added at a later date for future growth. The jail will be built to federal standards so that we could house federal inmates in order to supply us with a cash income from the jail. Right now, he has drawn the base plan two ways. One would be for a vertical jail set on a smaller piece of ground and the other a single level jail on several acres of land. Over the past few years, every jail building company representative that I have talked to usually says that a vertical jail is a last resort. Many of my fellow sheriffs say the same thing.
I believe that he has designed and helped build around 160 jails, so I think he knows a few things about this issue, but in fairness to the other jail building companies, I could make about three telephone calls and have three other jail building companies drop in for a visit with the commissioners. Bluntly said, if we decide to build a jail there will be plenty of people out there to choose from to build our jail. Even more bluntly said, if we are going to spend around $10 million to build a jail, we need to get the best design, the best company, the best land, the best of everything for our money.
As I said in another column, there are other money issues that will come up when you build a jail and this would be a very complex issue for the Pulaski County Commission to undertake over a period of several years. A lot of effort would be needed to start a new jail and bring the project to a successful completion. It is my view that this is a project that is long overdue and for the good of Pulaski County we must launch this effort soon.
Our calls for service/case number count for Sunday March 21, at 9 a.m. stands at 2,051 for the year. Once again I failed to include the calls-for-service number in last year’s column 13 so I cannot offer any comparison here today.
At this time, all of our cars are up and running and our newest car is now in service. I am looking for more vehicles to purchase but we must first earn some more money so I can purchase a vehicle. I believe that we are the only sheriff’s office in the state of Missouri that has to work for the money we use to supply our deputies with the finest 100,000-mile used cars that money can buy.
One again it is time to close out the rambling for today. Please stay away from our jail; we are trying to keep the expense for the year down. But if you just have to visit us you will be impressed by the bright lights.