Gee why didn't I think of that myself? Great idea. Appeals to an old time proven frugality that says make the best use of what you already have.
Yep, a friend posed the question after observing the college modifying True Hall into a bus barn. He asked "Why not convert the City Auditorium into the County Jail"? Great idea. The building is solid. The heating and cooling systems have recently been modernized. There are office spaces aplenty, even a rudimentary kitchen (or used to be) for donuts and coffee.
Grand Island's Chief Industries Correctional Division plans, fabricates and installs modular steel doors, walls complete with bathroom other necessary fixtures and appropriate jail furniture for rapid jail construction. It should be an economical project to install however many cells required, plus supporting structures for jailers to monitor the inmates in what is now the large open space that is the main part of the auditorium.
There is already a large door on the north side of the auditorium. That door would make an adequate "sally port" so prisoners could be loaded or unloaded securely for transport inside the building. The whole building is or could simply be made handicap accessible. It would be simple to fence the property if desired. There is adequate parking and the neighbors couldn't object as Hillcrest next door is already County owned.
An advantage of building the proposed jail next to the courthouse was that prisoners would not have to be transported from jail cell to the court room, they could simply walk in the company of a deputy. Actually the County could construct a small, big as the stage, court room inside the building to conduct business relating to the incarcerated prisoners. That might require the judges to travel the six blocks to or from the courthouse. Memory serves to remind that at least one recent judge would have been well served by a little walking exercise.
The auditorium is presently owned by the City of McCook. There are evidently no plans for further use of the grand building which will likely point to demolition. With the new Event Center at the College and the new Guard and Reserve Armory, large events that used the auditorium will have adequate facilities to house future events. The Fox Theatre is now modernized and restored which will provide better acoustics and better seating for the musical events that formerly took place in the Auditorium. After the City offices are moved to their grand new facility yet this year, it should be a simple matter for the City to sell the building to the County for the generous sum of one dollar.
I can think of two objections that might arise from the idea of making the city auditorium into a county jail. One is that it will be located too close to the new city office center. NIMBY for "Not in my back yard" is the classic logic. That argument should be offset by all those neighbors that objected to locating the new jail adjacent to the courthouse.
The second objection is the principle in logic that simply states: NDH for "Not discovered here!" It wasn't our idea, that would be the board of commissioners, so we will refuse to consider it. Hopefully that won't happen as the total cost of converting the Auditorium into a Jail would be only about half the cost of the new construction that had been earlier proposed and then found wanting. That half cost figure courtesy the gent that proposed the project to me for consideration.
My annual visit from old Air Force acquaintances coming to "deer camp" in my hangar has come and gone. The hunting was good they limited-out with their black- powder rifles. Only one major crisis this year. The Chief Restaurant had closed, so where could they perform their early morning breakfast ritual?
Sarah at HomeSpun accommodated, and it was a marriage made in heaven. But, then, where else but small-town Nebraska will the proprietress create a whole new menu just for eight hairy legged ill-dressed unshaven hunters?
The new item The Hunter's Special: two fried eggs, sausage, hashbrowns and multigrain toast. A side of biscuits and gravy was extra. All to be washed down with plenty of hot coffee. Happiness is a nimrod with a full belly!
That is how I saw it.