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County Commission OKs $4 million improvements to sheriff’s office, jail

The Cape Girardeau County Commission approved a lease purchase transaction of $4 million during its Jan. 30 meeting. The proceeds will go to pay for improvements at the sheriff’s office and the county jail, as well as acquiring new dispatch equipment.

Commissioner Paul Koeper said the renovations will include replacing HVAC equipment and making plumbing repairs for the entire sheriff’s office/county jail complex.

“The facility runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 or 366 days a year,” Koeper said. He added that the original part of the complex is 40 years old, while the “new” jail is 20 years old.

“It has taken a toll,” Koeper said. “It’s time for us to replace the equipment, as necessary, and to keep putting Band-Aids on it every year or so.”

The Commission recently approved putting a public safety sales tax increase on the ballot, which would increase the sheriff’s office funding if passed. Sheriff Ruth Ann Dickerson said the jail was in need of repairs and currently has exposed safety risks that need to be addressed.

The jail currently houses between 220 and 285 inmates daily, which is higher than what the building was designed for.

In addition to the facility maintenance, Dickerson cited low employee wages, understaffing and equipment upkeep as continuing concerns. The half-cent sales tax increase will be voted on by Cape Girardeau County residents on April 7.

Jay Forness covers education, county government and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Jackson for the past four years. He can be reached at cbjedit@socket.net.

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