Mentally ill diversion program moves forward

MARQUETTE — After a few hiccups, a local jail is moving forward with a new jail diversion program for the mentally ill.

The Marquette County Jail, in conjunction with Pathways, has been in the process of adding holding rooms for when officers come across non-violent offenders who may be mentally ill. The idea is to hold the individuals away from the general jail population to be observed by jail staff while awaiting a professional assessment of the person. The evaluator will recommend the most appropriate course of action on a case-by-case basis.

Architects drew up a proposal with the county’s facilities manager and put out bids. But the bids were $45,000 more than anticipated, which Sheriff Greg Zyburt says is due to the many projects going on in the area. The State and Pathways were able to locate the additional funds while the county remained supportive.

“The County Board, they are truly 100 percent committed to this grant and want this pilot project to come to Marquette County so they voted to keep on going with it with Pathways and the State of Michigan,” said Sheriff Zyburt.

The new price tag on the project comes in at just under $220,000 and construction is slated to begin within the next few weeks. Sheriff Zyburt said he anticipates the new rooms will be ready by late fall.