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Sheriff says there's too much to fix on building

A leaky roof, old wiring, and an inefficient heating and cooling system are just a few of the problems that plague the century-old building that houses the Ogle County Sheriff's Department. 

Sheriff Michael Harn said the problems have become serious enough that a new building is a better solution than repairing the old one. 

"There's too much to fix. Twenty-three years ago this building was considered a temporary office," he said. "If it was an easy fix, it would have been fixed a long time ago. It would be more cost effective now to build a new building." 

The two-story brick structure at 103 Jefferson St., Oregon, was built more than 100 years ago as the headquarters of E.D. Etnyre Company.

The county took over the building and adjoining property more than two decades ago, turning it into the sheriff's office. Other buildings on the property serve as storage and garage space, the county morgue, and the Ogle County Emergency Management Agency headquarters.

"Last year we were having a meeting in the training room when the ceiling collapsed due to rain," Harn said. "The heating system is inefficient. It can be cold down here [on the first floor] and so hot upstairs that you have to open the windows."

A new boiler doesn't work right, he said, and fails to provide adequate and even heat throughout the building.

The electirical wiring needs to be updated, Harn said, as does the phone system.

"Breakers and fuses blow all the time," he said. "The wiring is as old as the building."

The employee break room, he said, is in the women's restroom.

The biggest problem, he said, may be that the building with its multi-levels, narrow doorways, maze of a hallways, and tiny restrooms does not meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Ogle County Board voted Nov. 20 to hire Saavedra Gelhausen Architects, Rockford, and spend $158,000 for the firm to draw up a design for a new building on the present site.

Long Range Planning Committee Chairman Dennis Williams said the total cost of the new building has been estimated at $2.5 million.

Money for the project, Williams said, would come from the Long Range Planning Fund. Revenues in that fund come from the host fees paid by garbage collection firms to dump refuse in the landfills within the county.

The fees amount to approximately $3 million per year.

Harn said he envisions a new 10,000 square-foot building all on one floor, located on the east side of the property.

"We need get a plan to meet our needs and then find out what it's going to cost," he said. "Then we'll see if we can afford it."

Once the new building is completed, he said, the old one could be demolished to make way for parking.

The sheriff's department site is large enough, Harn said, that a new jail could be built there, too, at some point.

"Everything we need for years to come could be right here," he said.

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