The deal reached last week between Ward County and Ogden Newspapers for the sale of land north of the current Ward County Jail clears the way for a much needed expansion project.
The county had needed land currently used by the paper for parking to build an addition to the jail.
Perry Olson talked with Sheriff Steve Kukowski today about the project...and the staggering number of inmates that are housed at the facility now.
The wait for an answer on this land owned by Ogden didn't help the jail project timeline...
(Steve Kukowski - Ward County Sheriff) "It has taken some time and it has pushed us back a little but we are moving forward."
But now that there is a deal in place -- the plans on Sheriff Steve Kukowski's desk can start to become a reality. Just recently, Kukowski returned from a trip visiting many jails the Dakotas...trying to pin down what exactly is needed in the new facility.
(Steve Kukowski - Ward County Sheriff) "All jails are built at different times. This facility now is 32 years old and we wouldn't build another like this because it has some flaws in it. We are only going to get one shot at the new one so we want to do it correctly."
More space is certainly needed. Currently the jail can put 104 inmates in a bed...but jail numbers are consistently higher than that...127 now...and it will get worse as the warmer months arrive.
(Steve Kukowski - Ward County Sheriff) "The weekends especially over because people are serving weekend sentences and all the people who are arrested on the weekend."
The addition as currently designed will add almost 100 more beds -- and the potential for even more than that.
(Steve Kukowski - Ward County Sheriff) "This facility will be built with the option of adding another floor if that is needed in the future."
And if projections pan out...it is space that might just be needed sooner rather than later. In Minot, Perry Olson, KX News.
Kukowski estimates that completion of a jail expansion project is still two to two-and-a-half years away.