To The Editor:
The vast majority of the arguments in favor of the $41-million bond issue on the Clay County ballot are based on the need for a new jail. Regardless of who should have taken better care of the 22-bed jailhouse, pretty much everybody agrees that the county needs an upgraded jail and law enforcement center.
Other counties have done a good job of updating their jails, or building new. Faulk County did it four years ago with a 36-bed jail (50 percent bigger than ours) for $5.7 million.
The larger question is why are we being asked to approve a huge bond that would not only build a new law enforcement center and jail but also build an entirely new courthouse of unknown design at an undisclosed location away from downtown Vermillion?
Despite what some have said, there are no plans in place to save the current courthouse, which is not only one of Clay County’s most beautiful buildings but also one that is on the National Register of Historic Places.
It would have helped if the county and its committee had not voted in August 2019 to proceed with an all-new complex before it asked for public input in February 2021 — long after the decision had been made.
It ignored the architectural consultant group it hired and its more than 300 pages of documentation that the current courthouse could be upgraded and saved for less than building new. These same consultants strongly urged a new jail, and that’s what the county should have proposed — along with saving and upgrading the current courthouse.
Let’s defeat this bond issue and get back to realistic planning for the future while honoring our beautiful history — and do it with the public’s input.