While the relationship between Clinton County and Shive-Hattery has been a productive one, the Clinton County Commissioners have decided to hold off on a commitment with the architectural and engineering firm.

The commission met with Shive-Hattery’s Michael Lewis on Thursday, August 10, to review the documents and processes that would be needed for the county to officially name Shive-Hattery as its design professional on a possible jail construction project.

Rather than move on the issue, the commission opted to hold off, in part because progress on the jail issue has hit a lull. Both the Clinton County Commissioners and the Clinton County Sheriff’s Department have been in talks with the City of Kansas City, Missouri, about the possibility of Clinton County building and operating a jail to house prisoners both from the county and the municipality.

Such a partnership could finally provide the county with the financial stability it needs to build a new jail and replace the outdated and inadequate jail at the courthouse. But due to Kansas City’s requirements, the jail could feature upwards of 400 beds – a much larger and costlier operation than the county had considered in the past. Of those beds, 275 would be dedicated to Kansas City, while the remainder would serve Clinton County. Any other empty beds could be rented to other entities, generating additional revenue for Clinton County.

Shive-Hattery pitched the county a 400-bed, 99,500 square-foot design proposal earlier this month at a projected cost of $38.2 million. But talks with Kansas City are preliminary and progress hasn’t gone much further.

In addition to the slowing talks between the two entities, the Clinton County Commissioners voiced their concern last week that, in order to name Shive-Hattery as their design professional at this point, they’d be required to do so on the previous work and recommendation of the Clinton County Jail Committee. While the committee has been working hard on the jail issue this year, its members weren’t appointed by the county commission, but rather the Clinton County Sheriff’s Department. The commission was concerned with the logistics of retroactively working on the recommendation of a group that it did not set in place.

Both Presiding Commissioner Wade Wilken, Jr. and First District Commissioner Gary McCrea said Thursday that locking down a design professional now would be premature. Second District Commissioner Larry King said that no one he has talked to in his Cameron barbershop has had a positive opinion about Clinton County building a 400-bed jail to house Kansas City inmates. He added that he’ll be cautious about the process and about voting on any issues that would be so costly.

By Brett Adkison | Clinton County Leader