In a momentous event on Tuesday, October 31, Saline County celebrated the long-awaited ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new state-of-the-art detention facility. The event brought together distinguished guests, including Saline County Commissioners, elected state representatives, and esteemed officials such as State Representative Clark Sanders.
Commissioner Vidricksen, a lifelong resident of Saline County, expressed his excitement for the significant occasion. He emphasized the crucial role of protecting the safety of the community members, a responsibility that he takes with the utmost seriousness. Vidricksen spoke about the fiscal challenges the county had faced, spending substantial amounts on housing inmates outside the county. He committed to ensuring that Saline County takes care of its own inmates, leading to the realization of an impressive $89 million facility.
The journey towards the new jail facility involved extensive collaboration and community engagement. The commissioners, along with the Sheriff and County Administrator, educated themselves and the public on the pressing need for expansion. Experts like Jim Robinson with JRS were consulted, and various options were explored, from a greenfield site to expanding the existing building. Town hall meetings and financial advisors were part of the process, leading to a successful vote and the subsequent commencement of this transformative project.
Sheriff Soldan, with 35 years of service at the Sheriff's Office, reflected on the long-anticipated facility. The current jail, originally constructed in 1962 and expanded in 1988, had become inadequate for the evolving needs of the community. The new facility goes beyond being just a bigger jail; it focuses on providing a safer environment for inmates, with natural lighting and fresh air, as well as valuable rehabilitation programs. Additionally, the modern security electronics, including nearly 400 cameras, will ensure the highest level of safety.
Before the unveiling of the cornerstone, Sheriff Soldan shared a poignant piece of art that had been moved to the new jail. Painted by an inmate, Tom Collette, this artwork had adorned the Sheriff's Office lobby for decades. The symbolic gesture of preserving this artwork in the new facility pays homage to the institution's history and the hope for positive change.
The cornerstone dedication followed, with Sheriff Soldan explaining the significance of having three cornerstones from different eras of the county's correctional history. The tradition continues with the inclusion of a cornerstone from the original jail.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the highlight of the event, symbolizing the start of a new era in Saline County's commitment to community safety. Sheriff Soldan noted the unique design of the facility, preserving a piece of the old jail as a symbolic gateway into the future.
Tours were conducted for the attendees, with the Department's Transition Team leading the way, offering a glimpse into the cutting-edge features and improvements of the new Saline County Jail. The community can look forward to a brighter future with better outcomes for inmates, improved facilities for the hardworking sheriff's staff, and enhanced partnerships with service providers.