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Bureau and Stark counties work on shared emergency management

Bureau County Jail may have to house female inmates elsewhere

PRINCETON — Bureau County Emergency Management Agency is considering an intergovernmental agreement with Stark County EMA to help operate its services.

At Tuesday’s Bureau County Board meeting, board member Mike Kohr questioned the discussions and said he’d read an article about the possible pact in a recent edition of the Peoria Journal Star.

Bureau County EMA Director Keenan Campbell said he had been approached about the idea and learned that Stark County’s EMA program was “faltering a bit.”

Right now the two counties are pursuing an agreement under which Bureau County would help with operations and EMA planning for Stark County.

Campbell said details are still being worked out in the monthly EMA committee meetings, but members are not ready to bring any negotiations to the county board. He said he hopes to have an agreement ready for Bureau County State’s Attorney Geno Caffarini to review by next week. Campbell anticipates bringing for approval the final agreement to the next regular county board meeting on Tuesday, April 12.

Bureau County Jail might have to eliminate housing for females

Also Tuesday, Kristi Warren, chairwoman of the building and grounds committee, said Illinois Department of Corrections recently inspected the Bureau County Jail and found more issues with the facility.

It’s no secret the aging structure is past its prime, having everything from leaking roofs to crammed spaces the past several years. In November 2010, voters strongly said no to a ballot question asking to allow the county to issue up to $15 million in bonds to pay for a new jail.

Since then, discussions on a new facility have been on hold, but the issues have remained and, in some cases, worsened.

Warren said the jail capacity might have to be reduced to meet the requirement of 50 square feet per inmate. She said housing for females is also now an issue. Warren said the committee is discussing how to resolve these issues and will bring plans to the county board at a future meeting.

In other news, the board:

• Approved rezoning the south side of Route 92 near 35 East Street in Fairfield Township from Ag to M-2 for the purpose of building a manufacturing facility with offices for Midwest Bio-Systems.

• Approved the reappointment of Ronald Lootens as a Manlius Fire trustee for another three-year term.

• Approved placing the county employee handbook and employee job applications online. Those looking to apply for a county job can now do so on the county website.

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