McKenzie Co Courthouse & Jail Expand - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

McKenzie Co Courthouse & Jail Expand

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From the water department to social services --- oil impacts stretch through every department at McKenzie County Courthouse.

County commissioners and sheriff departments are in the early phases of discussing a new multi-county correctional facility.

But until that happens, newly appointed McKenzie County Sheriff John Fulwider is making adjustments to the jail and as Jennifer Thorgramson tells us in this week's Eye on Energy, as one renovation is complete, another begins.

Built in 1985, the McKenzie County Correctional Facility was once the answer to oil-fed growing pains.

(Sheriff John Fulwider, McKenzie County) "We had what I call a mini-boom back in the 80's. That lasted for about five years. This boom is three-times or four-times as busy as we were back then."

To deal with today's growing pains, the jail is undergoing a renovation.

A little over a million dollars has been invested in updating cell doors, video and electrical equipment.

This hallway of cells has been unusable for years.

With the updates, in addition to the existing nine bed capacity, the hallway will add two holding cells for short-term stays.

(Sheriff John Fulwider, McKenzie County) "Eight years ago, we were a six man department. Now we're up to 14. And I hope to get three more."

Also at that time, the nine bed jail was rarely full, even with long-term inmates.

All inmates staying longer than 48 hours are moved to Dickinson right now: Williams County is too full to help, and McKenzie too small to house them.

(Sheriff John Fulwider, McKenzie County) "Equipment, patrol vehicles, manpower, is that going to be enough? I don't know. We're just trying to keep our head above the water."

The McKenzie County Jail renovation should be complete by December.

And as one facility is completed, another will be under construction.

(Linda Svihovec, McKenzie County Auditor) "We've run out of room. Completely run out of space to even stuff people in cubicals anymore."

Every department within the McKenzie County Courthouse has added staff, and the 2014 budget makes room for 20 more.

But there's no room left in the building, so the county will be adding on to the east with additional parking to the south.

A $9.6 million dollar expansion bid was approved in October.

Finances for the project have been set aside for the last three years.

Now in order to streamline the building process, the courthouse departments will be stepping aside: departments are preparing to move into a portable courthouse at the fairgrounds.

(Linda Svihovec, McKenzie County Auditor) "It will be challenging, we'll be going from a too small space to an even smaller space. But I think in the end, everyone sees where we'll be in the end. It's something we're willing to do."

Planning for the future of oil country is a bit of a moving target, and the answer may be different with each decade but McKenzie County is growing with demand.

For Eye on Energy in Watford City, Jennifer Thorgramson, KX News.

Future needs are being kept in mind through the renovations: instead of permanent inner walls the courthouse will be made up of furniture systems that can be moved without major renovation if needed.

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