Winnebago Board to Look at Mt. Valley Wetland Restoration and Lingering Construction Issues

The Winnebago County Board of Supervisors will meet today beginning at 9 am with a possible closed session to discuss continuing Public Safety Center building issues. There are several problems with doors in the facility where faulty alarms alert jailers of open doors. Some of the alarms are sporadic while others are constant.

John Hanson of Midwest Construction Consultants who headed up the construction of the facility has been contacted by the county on numerous occasions according to the county Director of Building Maintenance Kevin Williams. He says that not much has been done to rectify the problems at the jail. One of those issues is an automatic shut-off of water to holding cells in the jail. Solenoids are needed to electronically shut off the water in case of an emergency. According to the outgoing Winnebago County Jail Administrator Rick Caldwell, there are solenoids that have not been installed.

In the first year of operation, jailers noticed a burning smell similar to a burnt light ballast. County maintenance was able to locate an electrical short in a hall closet. They were able to determine that the power switched for the valve shutoffs had been disconnected and were left hanging live in the closet. Several more of these same issues were found throughout the facility.

Williams has priced the 4-inch solenoids that are needed in the jail.

The Winnebago Supervisors did not like the idea of purchasing the solenoids because the county had already purchased them at the original construction price of the jail.

Hanson allegedly told Winnebago County Sheriff Dave Peterson not to contact the contractors because Hanson wanted to be the person who dealt with them according to Caldwell. Hanson did say that they would try to work something out, but Caldwell stated that nothing has happened so far.

Doors in the county jail are also another sticking point. According to a list obtained by KIOW News, at least six doors have issues. Two of these will go on alarm because they show that they are open. However, the doors are actually closed and locked. Two others claim they are not locked, but in reality are. A fifth door will show about 50% of the time that it is locked. That door stays locked continuously.

A sixth door will take anywhere from 5 minutes to 4 hours to register that it’s closed and locked. Jailers routinely have to check and double-check each door for security reasons.

Caldwell said that attempts have been made to resolve the alarm issues with the doors.

The county may be looking to take legal action on the construction issues.

The board will also look into wetland restoration in the Mt. Valley Township area. This project involves the closing of several laterals and damming up others. The NRCS has approached the county about the project, but supervisors were reluctant to pass the project because they wanted to hear from residents along the wetland area and those downstream.

The project involves Drainage Districts 83, 88, 89, and 101. It is east of 210th Street to 230th and south of 375th Street down to 360th. In total, 10 pools will be formed or enhanced and some drainage may have to be reworked. Some secondary roads may face reinforcement do to the increase in pooled water.

Residents in the affected areas will be allowed to address the board with their concerns before the project is up for approval. The hearing will begin at 10 am in the Supervisors Room of the Winnebago County Courthouse.


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