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Every penny counts at new jail: Preliminary estimate for facility comes in at a half-million under cap

DIXON – The preliminary estimate for building a new jail came in at about $17.96 million Tuesday, about $500,000 south of the Lee County Board’s cap on the project.

Construction costs are projected to be about $16.3 million and other expenses include $870,000 for Cherry Valley-based Ringland-Johnson Construction, the construction management firm and designer for the work, as well as about $700,000 for contingencies, Sheriff John Simonton said.

“Everything is coming together at the right time, and we’re doing our due diligence to save every penny,” he said.

The favorable estimate also allowed them to add an outdoor storage building back into the plans, with a footprint totalling 41,000 square feet for the law enforcement center, which is slated to be built on about 3 acres the county owns at 240 E. Progress Drive with a 96-bed jail.

The project documents have been sent to the
Illinois Department of Corrections for approval, and the goal is to break ground Aug. 1 and complete construction by the end of November 2019.

The project cap was upped from $17.5 million to $18.5 million last month, and the bulk of funding will come from the half-percent sales tax increase that went into effect in July. Board members have talked about using solid waste reserves or capital funds to make up the difference.

The proposed jail will have a mezzanine with an observation hallway with windows large enough to see both levels of cells, as well as a sally port, space for the sheriff’s department, storage room, and a detention pond to alleviate flooding issues.

Plans are also in the works for energy efficiency, such as LED lighting for the building, but it would be cost prohibitive to include green energy systems like geothermal or solar, Simonton said.

The facility also will include a video arraignment system that will cut down on the cost of transporting prisoners to court. Video arraignment is currently being used about 89 percent of the time, he said.


The Lee County Board next meets at 6 p.m. June 19 in the third-floor board room of the Old Lee County Courthouse, 112 E. Second St.

The agenda will be posted at 2 days before the meeting.

The hope is that the project will come in under the cost estimate, depending on construction bids and the county’s cost for furnishings and equipment.

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