Plans progress for old jail

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Hancock County officials plan to renovate the soon-to-be former county jail in downtown Greenfield and move several government departments there.

Mitchell Kirk | Daily Reporter

GREENFIELD – With the new Hancock County Jail recently completed, plans are advancing for the old lockup’s future.

Design work continues on renovations coming to the soon-to-be former jail and the county’s Community Corrections building, which are slated to house county government departments in need of new space in the coming years.

Inmates will soon move from the county’s current jail in downtown Greenfield to its replacement north of U.S. 40 between County Roads 400E and 500E.

Plans are in the works for the jail building downtown to be renovated to house Community Corrections and the juvenile probation office on its main level, and offices for the county coroner, public defenders and adult probation on its lower level.

The coroner currently does not have a county office, and does much of the work at Hancock Regional Hospital. Hancock County’s public defenders currently operate in rented office space and adult probation is in the Hancock County Courthouse.

The Community Corrections building, just east of the jail building on downtown Main Street, is planned to be the future home of the county prosecutor’s office. Currently, the prosecutor’s office operates in a nearly 150-year-old building at 27 American Legion Place.

Hancock County officials plan to move Community Corrections out of its current location in downtown Greenfield and into the former jail building, making way for the county prosecutor’s office. Mitchell Kirk | Daily Reporter

John Jessup, president of the Hancock County Board of Commissioners, said the renovations at both buildings are estimated to cost about $12 million. He’d like to fund the work with money provided by general obligation bonds, a strategy the county uses for capital expenses. The county currently has two such bonds, and Jessup anticipates pursuing another next year.

“What it all boils down to is we have certain needs, and we have to solve all these things, and this is how we can solve it,” Jessup said. “It’s cost-effective and creates the most space for all of our departments.”

DLZ, an architecture, engineering, planning, surveying and construction consulting firm, is doing the design work for the renovations.

Scott Carnegie, project manager with DLZ’s Indianapolis office, told Hancock County officials earlier this month that county department leaders have been helpful throughout the design process.

“Overall I believe the goal and objective of getting everybody situated where we thought they were going to end up was very successful,” Carnegie said. “I believe that we’ve met everybody’s program needs.”

Community Corrections’ work release program was temporarily suspended in May 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s expected to be reinstated soon and employ a staff of 10.

The current Community Corrections building has enough living space for about 100 participants in the work release program. When it moves down the street to the jail building, it’ll be able to accommodate about 130. But because the new location is more spread out, Community Corrections executive director Wade Kennedy has concerns the staff may need to double in size to ensure work release participants are properly monitored.

Design work and other preparations are expected to be completed by this fall, at which time the county would seek bids for the work planned for the downtown jail building.

Jessup said that project will hopefully finish in the third quarter of 2023. Then, after Community Corrections moves out of its current space, the county would seek bids for the work planned there.

Further in the future, Jessup would like to see the county clerk’s office move into adult probation’s space in the courthouse after it moves to the downtown jail building. That would open up space for a fourth county court, something he expects to be needed soon.

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