ON YOUR MARKS as the ceremonial ground breaking for the Bates County Jail and the new administration building improvements was underway. Left to right: Sean Simmons Deputy, Jason Lawrence Deputy, Sheriff Chad Anderson, Bruce Jessup Community First Bank, Lucille Mundy Recorder, Don Maylon Butler Mayor, Roger Pruden Assessor, Jim Platt Treasure, Alvin Griffin Northern Commissioner, Jim Wheatley Presiding Commissioner, Larry Hacker Southern Commissioner, Travis Tindell N-Form Primay Architect, Jennifer Wilson N-Form Primary Architect, Steve Smith Universal Construction President, Gary Walker Universal Project manager, Bob Brassart Universal Construction Site Manager.

Last month, the commissioners outlined plans detailing all work to be done just off the Southwest corner of the Butler square:

The Commissioners would like to announce the anticipated start date on the County’s major construction projects. The administration building project is expected to begin mid-March with an estimated completion last quarter 2018. The County jail addition is expected to start in mid-April with an estimated completion first quarter of 2019.

Our goal the last six months has been to establish a plan not just to build and modify, but to insure the tax monies received are well spent. Recently the State of Missouri has allowed government entities to adopt a policy with construction management companies called Construction Manager at Risk (CMR). It creates a fixed price for the project called Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP). The construction company guarantees the final cost. If the project comes in under that cost, the savings is returned to the County.

Our jail addition will add 70 new dormitory style beds allowing more beds per square foot. Inmates of lesser crimes and short term prisoners can be housed together. Other prisoners are confined by degree of segregation, sex and specific holding requirements. Why do we need the addition? At times our jail exceeds the designed capacity causing the county to spend additional dollars to house inmates with other jails. Our jail is funded primarily by federal prisoners and this allows the Sheriff department to provide better service to the community. Funding officer salaries, their equipment, vehicles and facility up keep are major concerns for all Counties.

The administration building project (formally Butler Music Store Jennings Market) will allow for more space for the administration offices of the County, (assessor, recorder, treasure/collector, county clerk, surveyor and commissioners). Easier access for taxpayers to specific offices will be obtained, additional storage space for records, voting equipment, office files, and additional personnel work space will be available. Moving these offices to another location would allow the courts to maximize the second floor.

Several years ago proposals were looked at to expand the court system in the courthouse. Moving the courts to another building (next to the existing jail) was not well received. A look-alike building next to the courthouse was considered, but did not relieve crowding and was mostly rejected due to changing the courthouse appearance.

Early in 2017 the opportunity to purchase the Butler Music building came about. At that time the jail project plans had already started. We determined that by purchasing the Butler Music building we could solve two problems. One, we could move offices out of courthouse to allow ease of access for the public and two, that allows room for courts to expand.

The Jennings house was then offered to us, and that gave us more space for parking. With the jail expansion only a limited number of spaces would be available. We did not want to create a parking issue for employees or the public.

So we held up progress on jail expansion to design a user-friendly facility within the former Butler Music building. The idea to have both projects done with one company at the same time would be a cost savings to the taxpayers. In early January 2018 designs were completed on both the jail and admin building.

How are these projects being paid for? First, back in 2016 taxpayers approved the continuation of a half-cent sales tax that was to originally expire in 2017. The continued half-cent was specifically written for capital improvements only.

There was much discussion on county income. Looking back five years, at expense and income reports, and projected income scenarios, we have determined the county can finance these projects without jeopardizing any monies being held as reserves. All county officials were informed and involved in these projects.

Included in our plans is to update and protect our present courthouse. Tuck pointing, foundation repair and drainage are concerns we are currently looking at. Our courthouse is registered with the State Historical Preservation Office (SHPO) and is on the National Historic Register, which allows us to apply for grants that will help fund projects selected for the courthouse. Companies that have the knowledge to preserve structures, such as our courthouse, have been hired to assess the courthouse and make recommendations of what and how to do it. The state requires certain procedures and materials to be used to comply with requirements of the State Historical Preservation Office.

You have entrusted your commissioners to watch over, and govern, your county. We are confident our decisions have been made in your best interest to move the county forward for decades. Modernizing, expansion, and protection of County assets is our utmost concern.

Jim Wheatley Presiding Commissioner
Alvin Griffin Northern Commissioner
Larry Hacker Southern Commissioner