Plans are moving forward for the Isanti County Jail to receive a makeover in 2022.

During the Isanti County Board meeting Oct. 20, the board approved a bid for $73,000 with Wold Architects and Engineers, based out of St. Paul, to provide architectural and engineering services for the remodeling of the Isanti County Jail.

The total project cost for the jail remodel is approximately $1.6 million, which will be paid through Isanti County’s American Rescue Plan Act funds.

The other bid received for the project was from the BKV Group out of Minneapolis in the amount of $87,500.

Isanti County Sheriff Chris Caulk noted in his staff memo that the jail remodel provides for expansion of the booking area and the sally port to allow for ambulances to pull into the garage area for transport. Caulk noted the following the reasons the jail remodel is needed:

• The booking area and sally port areas of the jail do not provide sufficient space for social distancing and is also a safety concern for staff and inmates.

• The jail provides very tight quarters with increasingly violent inmates. There is a need for more space to separate inmates upon intake.

• The ambulance doesn’t fit in the current garage so the sheriff’s office employees are loading inmates into ambulances in a non-secure setting.

• The sheriff’s office cannot process some very ill inmates until they are into the heart of the jail. If employees can process them in the new prebooking area, it will help in keeping the very ill out of the main facility until it’s determined they are screened to come in.

The goal of the jail remodel includes:

• A remodel to the current jail booking area and holding cell area to provide better function and capacity.

• A new vehicle sally port that will be wider than the existing and allow for increased safety and functionality when opening doors.

• Build-out of a more effective pre-booking area in the existing vehicle sally port.

Caulk said he didn’t have experience with either firm but both firms have done jail projects across the state. Based on price, Caulk said he would recommend Wold.

“They both have been very accommodating. When we’ve had questions, they’ve both come to the facilities and looked at them,” Caulk said. “Based on the places that they have done, I believe both would do a fine job. They both could do the job equally, I would think, in my opinion.”

According to information provided in their proposal to the county, Wold has done similar projects in over 20 counties across Minnesota, as well as in Michigan, Illinois and Colorado. Some of the projects in Minnesota include additions and renovations to the Redwood County Law Enforcement Center completed in 2017 with a budget of $3.1 million, and additions and renovations to the McLeod County Law Enforcement Center completed in 2017 with a budget of $6.5 million.

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