By Vinde Wells
Plans to build a new county jail in the 100 block of South Sixth Street in Oregon moved ahead last week when the county board approved a contract with Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum, Inc. for the design.
The board voted 20-1 on Nov. 21 to hire HOK for the architectural and engineering design of a 70,000 square-foot jail facility with a connecting link from the new facility to the existing county judicial center at a cost not to exceed 1.67 million.
County board chairman Kim Gouker, of Byron, said the exact cost has not yet been determined.
Board member Lee Meyers, of Byron, cast the only no vote. Board members Ron Colson, of Mt. Morris, Rich Gronewold, of Forreston, and Zach Oltmanns, of Davis Junction, did not attend the meeting.
The board also approved hiring Raymond James for underwriting the purchase and sale of bonds for financing the new jail.
In September the board approved issuing bonds not to exceed $28 million for the jail project.
The board also met in closed session to discuss ongoing negotiations with the City of Oregon for the closure of a block of South Sixth Street between the judicial center and the jail site, but took no action afterward.
In another matter, the board approved its 2018 budget with appropriations of $39 million and a tax levy of $12.6 million.
The budget did not include the wage freeze recommended by Finance Committee Chairman Greg Sparrow, of Rochelle.
Instead, employees who are not union members will get raises of 1.5 percent. Some union contracts are under negotiation.
In other business the board declared Nov. 25 as Gregory Wood Day in Ogle County.
Wood, 19, a Leaf River volunteer fireman, died Nov. 10 when his family’s house was destroyed by a fire. His funeral was held Nov. 25.