McCOOK, Nebraska -- Red Willow County, Nebraska, commissioners at their weekly meeting this morning hired an Omaha firm to conduct a study of options for housing the county's prisoners.
Commission Chairman Earl McNutt said, "The (construction and operation) numbers may scare us to death, but this is a place to start."
Prochaska & Associates will charge the county $15,000 to study the county's five options:
* Use the City of McCook's 96-hour holding cells and continue to transport long-term prisoners to neighboring county jails.
* Expand the city's 96-hour cells into a full-operation jail.
* Update the county's jail closed in 1983.
* Build new construction onto the north side of the courthouse.
* Build new construction elsewhere.
Commissioners received two other bids: $10,500 from Treanor Architects of Topeka, Kansas, and $32,750 from Carlson West Povondra also of Omaha, which partners with W Design of McCook.
Sheriff Gene Mahon told commissioners that he felt confident in Prochaska's work with small jails. "We've heard nothing but good things out of Valentine," where Prochaska has built the new Cherry County jail, Mahon said.
Commissioners were also impressed with Prochaska's experience with small jails. Commission Chairman Earl McNutt added, "They're a Nebraska-based firm, too. We try to keep our money at home, if we can."
McNutt spoke for commissioners when he said that he, Steve Downer and Vesta Dack agree that a jail study is necessary.
"Whether we like it or not, we need to update our numbers," McNutt said. The last jail study started in 2003 and ended with a failed election in 2006. Prochaska said in a presentation recently that the 2003-2006 numbers can be updated for inflation.
McNutt said he will contact Don Prochaska and Steven Riley of Prochaska about attending another commissioners' meeting and helping the county board create a new jail task force of county residents. The next step, McNutt said, is for commissioners to do their homework and approach volunteers about serving on the task force.
Prochaska's study will be paid for with money in the county's jail sinking fund.