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Community members invited to meeting on proposed Cook County Jail project

GRAND MARAIS, MN — On Thursday night, community members received an update on a proposed plan to upgrade the Cook County jail from a 72-hour jail into a full-time facility. But they also had the opportunity to weigh in on the project following a jail study.

Community members were eager to learn more about the proposed $6 million project to update the Cook County Jail, but they also came with many hard-hitting questions.

“I wonder if anyone has done the total projection costs plus any overtime dollars per year? I haven’t seen those numbers.”

“Do you have any statistics on that?”

“Does the public opinion play any part in your decision?”

As of Thursday night, a new update revealed that transportation numbers are down from the time the study was conducted, and a class three facility may not be necessary.

“Right now it’s probably not a viable option.”

Despite numbers being down, officials said they don’t want all of the hard work to go to waste.

But after four years of being aware of the project, community members have some suggestions of their own.

“I don’t know why everything has to be done at once. I mean why can’t we phase things in and spend the money as we get it?”

Or an even more popular opinion: ‘if it’s not broke don’t fix it.’

“Get a legislative change to allow a six-day holding facility rather than a three. I really think it might be doable.”

Looking toward the future, officials agree one option could be to make some changes like windows, a heating and cooling system, and even a new evidence room.

“So there are things that need to be done but a bigger facility, I’m not sure.”

The next step is to get feedback from the county board, and possibly a core planning meeting to update design solutions.

RELATED: Cook County Sheriff: Upgrade to jail would cost less to operate

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CeCe Gaines

Multimedia Journalist

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