Rep. Pete Stauber tours Beltrami County Jail during visit to Bemidji
During his visit to Bemidji last week, U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber, who represents Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District, had the chance to tour the Beltrami County Jail on Feb. 16.
BEMIDJI — During his visit to Bemidji last week, U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber, who represents Minnesota’s 8th Congressional District, had the chance to tour the Beltrami County Jail on Feb. 16.
Several Beltrami County Commissioners, sheriff Jason Riggs and jail staff members met with the congressman to discuss the ongoing County Jail Project and request assistance from the federal government.
“We are very grateful for the time Congressman Stauber spent touring our jail facility and meeting with staff and commissioners,” said County Administrator Tom Barry. “His prior service as a 20-year veteran police officer and St. Louis County Commissioner was very beneficial in helping us develop a strategy for moving forward.”
The project for the county jail began after the current facility was inspected by the Department of Corrections and was found to no longer meet state standards. The county was given the option to address the jail’s issues or close the facility.
Conversations around the future of the jail have been underway for over a year, as a Jail Needs and Feasibility Study was completed that presented seven options for the facility’s future.
County commissioners made the decision in November 2022 to pursue building a new jail, at the estimated cost of $500 million, of which $374.7 million will come from levy costs over the next 30 years and the remainder will come from a planned local option sales tax.
Stauber toured the current facility and spent an hour with county representatives discussing the issues and challenges with the jail as well as the opportunities for support from the federal government.
“Representative Stauber’s commitment to law enforcement and his empathy and support for our staff and our challenges was very much appreciated,” Riggs said.
Among the issues discussed were jail demographics and trends, DOC rule changes, staffing limitations, federal rules and legislative approaches and possible federal participation in the design and construction of a new county jail.
“Rep. Stauber was very receptive to learning about the county’s struggles and acknowledged the concerns and indicated his support for the county going forward,” Barry shared.
Stauber indicated that he will be working with his team to find ways that his office and the federal government can support the county and its jail project moving forward.