Commissioners to consider moving jail, creating ad-hoc committee

Linda Gallagher, Contributing Writer

Photo by Linda Gallagher

A packed house attended a special Antrim County Board of Commissioners meeting Monday night, where decisions were made to move forward with consideration of re-locating the Antrim County Jail and other county facilities.


BELLAIRE – During a special meeting Monday night, Antrim County's Board of Commissioners agreed after lengthy discussion to consider creating an ad-hoc committee to work with the county toward its future master facilities plan and to consider moving the county jail off site.

But the nine-member board will take baby steps to do so.

Noting that the meeting was held to keep the public informed of the board's actions regarding their proposed future master facilities plan – which includes several options for renovations and possible additions or reconstruction of the county's administrative building as well as the county's law enforcement facilities – Commission Chair Ed Boettcher stressed to the packed house attending the meeting that the county intends to be completely transparent about any actions it may take.

"We haven't made any decisions at all yet, and aren't in any rush to do this," he said. "And we intend to include the public's thoughts and ideas on anything we do decide to do."

That said, during his initial comments, Boettcher stated, "It appears that it is the consensus of the board that we need a new jail and law enforcement facility, but we haven't decided where, as well as renovations or replacement of the administration building to address security and ADA concerns.

"Nobody here will get everything they want," he noted, "but we're on the same page."

But several commissioners made statements that indicated they were not fully in agreement, including District 7 Commissioner Dawn LaVanway – representing Echo, Chestonia, Jordan and Warner townships – who questioned asking taxpayers for funding for new county facilities.

"I don't see how we can ask taxpayers for a new jail when they are already struggling to pay their taxes," she said. "The people I've talked with don't want a new jail. These people are not going to keep handing the county money.

"Just putting us in a special meeting is a huge expense," she continued. "How much does that cost? It's outrageous."

Commissioner Melissa Zelenak, of Central Lake and Forest Home Townships, said that she believed the county should have all the facts needed before making any decisions.

"We need to slow this down," she said. "We need to have all the facts before we can move forward."

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