This artist’s rendering was included in the informational materials about Jackson County’s proposal to build a new jail.

The Jackson County Jail has been failing state inspections since 2014, and eventually, our community will suffer if nothing is done.

If we do not bring our county jail into compliance with state standards, taxpayers will eventually be forced to pick up the tab to house inmates elsewhere, which would mean, over the course of time, increased expense and the loss of local jobs. Beyond that, our current facility, which is 50 years old, poses safety risks to jail staff because of its cramped spaces and does not allow for adequate separation of prisoners, one of the many deficiencies the state inspector has pointed out.

Something has to change.

We are going to choose a solution or, at some point in the future, circumstances will choose one for us.

As citizens of Jackson County, we should keep that in mind next Tuesday when we go to the polls to decide if our county should borrow funds to build a new jail. 

Twice in the past three years voters have defeated referendums for a new jail by narrow margins, each time achieving an approval rate of more than 50%, but less than the 60% required for the taxpayer-funded project to move forward. Voters sent a message to those planning the jail, and here at your hometown newspaper, we believe that message was heard.

Planners have trimmed the project to lessen the future burden on taxpayers while trying to address the county’s needs, and that has not gone unnoticed. This is the first time your hometown newspaper has felt comfortable publicly endorsing the project, and it’s also the first time Jackson County Farm Bureau has encouraged its members to vote “yes.”

While almost no one enjoys paying taxes, this is a project we believe is necessary. We believe it will save Jackson County money in the long run and make our jail safer for those who work there – at a price we can afford.

Supervisors send right

message about masks

Members of the Jackson County Board of Supervisors put common sense and the well-being of their constituents above politics when they chose to keep a county mask mandate in place earlier this month despite Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds’ decision to do otherwise.

The pandemic continues to pose a dangerous threat to our community – especially our elderly – and that will not change until vaccines are readily available to all of us. As a matter of fact, new strains of the virus are now present in our state, and likely in our community, that are scientifically known to be more contagious than the original strain, which has itself proven to be quite contagious. 

While there are strong political forces dividing us about how to best manage the challenges the pandemic has caused, science has clearly shown that wearing masks in public helps keep us safe, and we are grateful our supervisors – Mike Steines, Jack Willey and Larry McDevitt – made the decision they did.