Lincoln County voters to decide on public safety center and courthouse future

During the Tuesday, July 28 meeting of the Lincoln County Commissioners several decisions were made regarding the public safety center. It was back in February that Lincoln County Commissioners approved spending up to 50 million dollars to build a public safety center, which would include a jail.

Right now, Lincoln County does not have their own jail. Instead, the county currently pays over $100,000 a month to house their inmates in other counties. Although plans had not been finalized for the public safety center, previous discussions in the first part of the year stated that it would also include a courtroom, judges chamber and emergency management. Public meetings were planned throughout the county earlier this spring to bring the idea to county residents, but several meetings were canceled due to the Coronavirus Pandemic.

On Tuesday, July 28, Lincoln County Commissioners approved to move forward with the purchase of land near the Marv Skie–Lincoln County Airport, just outside of Tea. Commissioner Michael Poppens, brought up the land purchase for the proposed Public Safety Center and other county needs.

Commissioner Jim Schmidt said that although the county faces the issue of whether or not to build the safety center at that location, if it did not work out, he said the land is “certainly sale-able.” Schmidt referred to it as a “good business decision.”

Poppens said this vote to move forward with the purchase would allow the county to enter into negotiations; a second vote will be held to agree with the price.

Commissioner David Gillespie voiced concern, saying it was a little like, “putting the carriage in front of the horse.”

Ultimately, the motion passed, 3 to 2, with Poppens, Schmidt and Commissioner Tiffani Landeen voting in favor and Gillespie and Commissioner Joel Arends voting against going into negotiations for the land purchase.

William Golden, Chief Civil Deputy State’s Attorney was present for the discussion to rescind Resolution No. 2002-27 authorizing Lease/Purchase for a Public Safety Center.

The commissioners passed the motion, 5 to 0, to rescind the February vote for Lincoln County to build a public safety center. Commissioner Arends noted that the county was involved in litigation regarding the jail vote. Golden said that could not be discussed.

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