The Gazette Weekly
The Buckner Board of Aldermen voted unanimously at a special meeting held on Monday, July 25, 2011 to bring in an architectural consultant to present budget numbers, facility information and pictures of detention facilities. Within this vote, it also stipulated that the city would not pay any money for this report. Alderman Cathy Litten said that the aldermen need to do their homework on this project and make sure they cover all their bases.
The Board asked for 2 proposals, one for a facility to house 20 inmates which would cover the number that the city has at one time in custody and also a facility that would house 150 inmates. Within this facility they discussed a police department area, activity area where court will be held and recreational area where children can play basketball and Board meeting space.
This was put on the front burner when Ray County, where our inmates were being sent, informed the city that effective August 9, 2011 they would no longer accept inmates from Buckner due to overcrowding. Mayor Dan Hickson said that probably the real reason was because of a letter that was sent from Buckner to Ray County indicating the unacceptable conditions there and asking them to clean up the facility. When an inmate was brought back from Ray County the police department went through their personal belongings and found mold. The city attorney’s stance was that since Buckner is sending inmates to Ray County and they know of the conditions there, the city is liable for lawsuits from inmates. At the present time all surrounding cities except for Raytown are still sending inmates to Ray County. Most of these cities like Independence, Grain Valley and Oak Grove have facilities in their city to house inmates for extended periods of time, but decide not to. This is partly due to larger facilities having access to medical care. At the present time Buckner inmates are being sent to the Johnson County Missouri facility outside of Warrensburg.
Discussion was held on whether it would be best for a private entity to build the facility and also if detention facilities make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, why isn’t everyone building one. The mayor stated that someone is going to build one and that detention facilities have a stigma that goes along with them.
The mayor brought up that the current city hall is prime real estate property on 24 highway and the city is not receiving any taxes from it. Theresa Runyon asked how long the building was for sale from the Fire Department before the city bought it and the response was about a year.
Several locations were discussed for holding court since the current area is undersized and not handicap accessible, one of which was the old Dollar General store. Chief Cook still said it would cost $10,000 to bring the current holding facility up to legal limits.
Alderman Chet Denton said that this should be brought before the city for a vote. Mayor Hickson said that if the city was to build a large facility, the city should vote on it but indicated that if they were only going to build a 20 bed facility, that the city is entitled to have this. Medical care was mentioned and with a large facility an EMS from the fire department would work for the city part time They did mention that if major hospital care was needed, that they drive the inmate to Truman Medical Center downtown, but no one mentioned any costs associated with the care.
The city has approximately 10-15 acres at the waste water treatment center which is the preferred site at this time. Chief Cook said that inmates could raise chickens, garden, mow properties and other supervised duties. He also mentioned that they have trustees now at the police department that perform various tasks.
No date has been set when the city will meet with the architects, but when that information becomes available, it will be posted on our web site when we are notified of it.
There were short discussions on the issues surrounding the last time a detention facility was proposed in Buckner. Alderman Jimmy Jones was singled out for voting no by a citizen in attendance and he replied that his wife and himself went door to door to constituents in his ward asking for their input and 70% were opposed and he felt that he should represent the voters is why he voted no.
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