By Teri Knight, News Director
The Rice County Jail had their annual inspection from the State Department of Corrections. Sheriff Troy Dunn said the findings showed they lacked proper/adequate classification for maximum and medium prisoners and for recreational space. The Deputy Commissioner said that on November 1 of this year, the Rice County Jail will have to be reclassified as a 90-day facility. Dunn said, “And that means that after 90 days, these prisoners in our jail will have to be moved to a facility that has that proper space.” Dunn went before county commissioners to request a jail study to review what they have, what they need and what can be done. In the meantime, they will have to transport prisoners to other facilities in Steele and LeSueur counties. Currently the fee is $55 a day but Dunn expects that to rise
to $65 a day soon for those “normal” prisoners with “no issues” such as disciplinary problems or special medical concerns. If he has a prisoner with higher needs, it could cost $125 a day. Right now he has nine part-time personnel at the courthouse that can provide transport. Dunn said, “If we add an additional 15 to 25 people that we have to be transporting because we can’t keep them here, I think that we will have to add to that as well.” He assured that it will not affect patrol or investigations at all because that’s a different budget. The current facility is 44 years old. The DOC said a jail built in the late 70s has a life expectancy of 25 to 35 years. While they’ve maintained the current facility, they’ve used every space possible. Once the RFP’s (Request for Proposal) come back, the county board will vote on which vendor to use. The study will look at what works for the immediate future and what they’ll need to do moving forward, which could be a new facility. With the new DOC Commissioner Paul Schnell, Dunn believes that may have led to the decision to make Rice County a 90-day facility. Appointed by Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, Schnell has been a strong advocate for improved programming and options for the State’s incarcerated. Dunn said should a new facility be the answer (and he’s not yet pushing for that), it could be a few years before completion.
Slowpoke law means move over!
Along with the Hands-Free law, the Slowpoke law also went into effect yesterday. The left lane is meant for passing and merging if there’s a split onto another road. Rice County Sheriff Troy Dunn added, “A lot of people don’t think of it; I’m just let that speeding vehicle go by, but a lot of times there’s emergency vehicles coming up and people have their radio on real loud or they’re talking to somebody, not paying attention and all of a sudden here’s an emergency vehicle. We’re trying to get to an emergency and you’re supposed to pull over to the right and they’re just locked in that left lane.” It’s happened to him many times. Dunn said let law enforcement catch the speeders.
Sand suction at 2nd Street
Northfield city employees were shoveling sand that came from the Cannon River and piled up on the boat launch at 2nd Street yesterday. They were sucking it up with a large machine. Streets and Parks Manager Tim Behrendt estimated about 8 to 10 yards of sand. As for why they didn’t just dump it back into the river, that silt likely came from surrounding farm fields and such so they do not want to put that back into our waterways. As for where they’re taking it, KYMN hasn’t received a response yet.