MAQUOKETA, Iowa — Jackson County Jail Advisory Committee members were told this week that the next step toward passing a bond measure for a $6.5 million jail project is to promote the effort.
Steve Schroeder, chief deputy and chairman of the committee, said he and 10 volunteers recently stuffed 7,800 envelopes in one day. They sent out brochures to nearly every home in Jackson County.
The brochures detailed the need for the jail, the estimated costs, tax impact and a proposed layout. The county paid for the brochures and mailing. The county can only pay for items which provide education on the issue.
The referendum will be on a county ballot Aug. 6. At least 60 percent of voters will have to support the measure for it to pass.
Absentee ballots are available in the county auditor’s office. Votes can also be cast in the office.
Schroeder said there were 40 to 50 people who went through the existing jail last week. The inmates were transferred to Cedar County jail for the morning.
Schroeder said most of the people attending were surprised at the size and condition of the jail.
The state has told Jackson County it will close the jail unless something is done. State officials have said the jail is too small and does not meet today’s security standards.
Schroeder said he spoke to Bellevue City Council members recently. The deputy said he explained the impact on the city of Bellevue, as well as other cities, if the bond measure fails.
If the county jail is closed, it will be up to the cities to find a place to put prisoners who are arrested. The cities also will have to pay for transportation to and from a facility and then return the next day to allow the person to appear before a judge.
Once a judge sees the person, it will be up to Jackson County to foot the costs and pay for transportation to an out-of-county jail.
Schroeder and members of the committee have spoken to the several organizations over the last few weeks and plan more meetings.
The committee received a $5,000 donation to help pay for the promotion costs. Signs have been purchased to put in the yards of residents who want them.
“It’s time to get out and promote the plan and ask voters to say, ‘Yes’ on Aug. 6 for a new Jackson County jail,” Schroeder said.