Children forgotten in jail plans

Work will remain in old jail building temporarily

News editor

With a new communications tower in place, Marion County Commission addressed another need that was overlooked in plans for the new jail: children.

Meredith Butler, director of Community Corrections for the 8th Judicial District, spoke to the commission Monday. Community Corrections has handled intake of juvenile offenders and children in need of care for 10 years, she said. Over that time, Marion County has had an average of 40 to 45 juveniles go through the system per year, but for the past three years it has been between 50 and 55.

Most of the cases in Marion County are children in need of care — children who need to be placed in foster care. It takes considerably longer to place a child in foster care than to send a juvenile offender to detention, Butler said. Placing a child in foster care can take six or eight hours sometimes.

In the past, Community Corrections has taken children to the older office portion of the old jail, but with the jail, sheriff’s department, and communications moved out of the building, the county planned to turn off the heat and other utilities.

Butler, the commission, and Sheriff Rob Craft discussed possibly using space in the sheriff’s department area of the new facility, but all of the choices would have been a hassle. Plans for the facility had overlooked youth intake.

“Somehow, out of all our planning, we goofed,” commissioner Randy Dallke said.

Community Corrections has been busy with children in need of care since the sheriff’s department moved. In one week recently, 13 children were placed in foster homes, including six in one day.

Butler, Craft, and the commission eventually decided to move juvenile intake into the newer office portion of the old jail. The solution may be only temporary, though. The commission has discussed demolishing the old jail, and commissioners are unsure whether it would be less expensive to rent space elsewhere than to pay for utilities for the old jail.

In other business:

  • John Barker, representative-elect for the 70th District in the Kansas House of Representatives, met with the commission. He will be sworn in Jan. 14. He has requested committee appointments to the Judiciary, Veterans and Homeland Security, and Transportation Budget committees.
  • Deborah Bowman in the Appraiser’s Department received a 15-year raise from $2,535 to $2,629 per month.
  • The commission approved raises from $13.87 to $14.56 per hour for Sheriff’s Department office manager Sarah Cope and from $14.05 to $14.56 per hour for Emergency Medical Services office manager Jamie Shirley. The raises were approved after a 25-minute closed session with Craft to discuss personnel.
  • Economic Development Director Teresa Huffman was awarded a $3,000 Community Resource Act grant.
  • County Clerk Carol Maggard will find out whether having employees take a defensive driving course would reduce the county’s insurance rates. The course is being offered by the county’s worker’s compensation insurance provider, Kansas Workers Risk Cooperative for Counties.
  • Marty Dalke of Hillsboro was appointed to Marion County Planning Commission.
  • Jailers Timothy Young and Bronson Shipman received raises from $10.25 to $10.76 per hour for six months of employment.
  • Emergency Management Director Dan D’Albini met with the commission in closed session for 10 minutes to discuss personnel. No action was taken on return to open session.
  • The commission specified that full-time employees whose evaluations said they were outstanding will receive 1-percent raises; exceeds expectations, 0.75 percent; and meets expectations, 0.5 percent.

The next commission meeting is scheduled for Monday. A flag-raising ceremony for the new jail is tentatively planned for noon.

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