Beltrami Commissioners get first look at potential jail committees

The Beltrami County Board of Commissioners met Tuesday and were introduced to a proposal of who may be included in decisions related to the future of the jail.

Beltrami County Jail. (Pioneer file photo)

BEMIDJI -- Beltrami County is narrowing in on who will be involved in determining the future of the local jail facility.

During its meeting Tuesday, the Beltrami County Board of Commissioners was informed about a proposed committee structure to take on the task of researching and making a decision on the future of the jail. The existing facility was built in 1989 and has a total capacity of 132.

According to staff, the building has aged considerably in recent years, causing structural issues. Additionally, the facility lacks space, forcing the county to house its inmates at other jails at a cost of $55 per day.

To determine whether to do a full remodel of the existing jail or construct an entirely new one, the idea put forth Tuesday is to have an overall steering committee that would report to the board and take direction from commissioners.

Additionally, the proposal is to have three advisory committees, which would research and report its findings to the steering committee. The advisory groups would focus on jail programming, design/operations and finance.


For the steering committee, the recommendation is for the task force to include the following:

  • Two county commissioners.
  • Minnesota Department of Correction Regional Director Trisha Hansen.
  • Bemidji Mayor Jorge Prince
  • A Red Lake Nation government official.
  • A Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe government official.
  • Minnesota Department of Corrections Tribal Liaison Randy Goodwin.
  • Local citizens Nancy Kingbird and Joe Vene.
  • County Jail Administrator Calandra Allen.
  • Sheriff Ernie Beitel.
  • County Administrator Thomas Barry.

For the programming committee, the proposal includes:

  • A county commissioner.
  • County Jail Programming Directors Eddie Busta and Anthony Derby.
  • County Social Services Division Director Jeff Lind.
  • Lead State Public Defender Kristine Kolar
  • DOC official Trisha Hansen.
  • DOC Tribal Liaison Randy Goodwin.
  • Three citizens.

The design and operations committee has the following recommendations:

  • A county commissioner.
  • A consulting architect.
  • Jail Administrator Calandra Allen.
  • County Facilities Supervisor Steve Shadrick.
  • Department of Corrections Inspection and Building Lead Chris Thomas.
  • Two citizens.

For the finance committee, the proposal includes:

  • A county commissioner.
  • County Chief Sheriff Deputy Jarrett Walton.
  • County Auditor/Treasurer JoDee Treat.
  • County Finance Director Samantha Rux.
  • County Administrator Thomas Barry.
  • Two financial professionals.

Another consideration for the board is to hire a consultant that would manage the planning, approach, scope schedule and budget of a project. The cost is estimated at $150,000.
Additionally, a jail feasibility and needs assessment study was also part of the proposal before the board, estimated between $15,000 and $30,000.

No action was taken on the subject by the board, as the proposal was informational only. The commissioners are expected to revisit the proposal at their first meeting in April.

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