Faribault Co. taking prisoners

BLUE EARTH – Faribault County is working with the Minnesota Department of Corrections to house prisoners due to get out soon.

“[State] prisons are becoming overfull and they’re looking at the counties,” Chief Deputy Scott Adams told county commissioners Tuesday. “It’s just a way to empty out the prisons and get them in the workforce.”

Adams said the prisoners must have a job set up in advance before they qualify to come to the county jail. And they need to be from a rural area.

“We want folks from this area, familiar to this area and who can integrate,” Adams said.

The county will get to see the inmates’ paperwork and will accept individuals based on where they’re from and the crime they have committed, said Sheriff Mike Gormley.

“We want to pick up funding where ever we can, but we don’t want to put the public at risk,” he said.

He added that the contract is still being worked out between the county and the state.

It costs about $55 per day to house inmates, Adams said. Faribault County already houses inmates from other counties, such as Martin County, for a fee.

Inmates from prisons would be monitored by the Department of Corrections, Adams noted. They would be on work release, then come back to sleep at the jail.

“They’re basically buying a bed from us,” Adams said.

Gormley said the Faribault County Jail has the space.

“Today, we’re at 26 (inmates),” he said. “We’re a 60-plus bed jail, so we got plenty of room.”

He added it is difficult to say how many additional inmates will qualify and be accepted at any one time.

Turning to old business, commissioners accepted $50,335 from the city of Blue Earth to purchase 3.6 acres of wetland credits. This is a requirement of the state before Blue Earth can continue work on the North Industrial Park in the northwest corner of Highway 169 and Interstate 90.

The project has been held in limbo because of questions over the whether the Army Corps of Engineers has jurisdiction of a small wetlands area found in one parcel of land.

Commissioner Greg Young worries that if the project is delayed any longer, a business that had expressed interest in moving to the park would back out, and losing that first business would be detrimental to the whole project.

In other business, the board:

o Approved hiring Missy Sonnek as a full-time corrections officer (jail/dispatch) to replace Amanda Miller, who asked to go from full-time to part-time.

o Heard a report from County Engineer John McDonald, who announced road weight restrictions will be lifted Friday.

o Heard a report from Warmka, who announced that Donna Leff has resigned as 4-H program coordinator. Her last day will be May 16.