Copper Country League of Women Voters hosts final jail proposal forum

HOUGHTON COUNTY — The Houghton County Board of Commissioners will meet Tuesday, April 10th. The commission will discuss the current proposal to add more cell space to the county jail by replacing the parking structure on the south side of the building with more cells, but not without some opposition.

“At least we have the public understanding that there is a problem and something needs to be done about it,” said Houghton County Sheriff Brian McLean.

While the county board is not seeking public input, the Copper Country League of Women Voters is, in hopes of persuading the board to consider the public’s voice before proceeding with the current plans.

“The turn out was light. I was hoping there would be quite a few more people in here tonight but the discussion was very lively and I thought it was a nice meeting all and all,” McLean added.

The league concluded its series of public forums last night with the third meeting in Calumet, where league members expressed concerns with the current proposal and referred to it as a “band aid” solution to far greater problems.

“We felt that a lot of the issues that we talked about here tonight, in particular the fact that, yes the jail has serious problems, the courthouse does, and the Sherriff’s office itself also do, and those were being completely ignored and not studied at all,” said Valorie Troesch, a member of the CCLWV.

Troesch explained to the audience that the league believes placing an addition on the jail does not solve many safety concerns and if that proposal reaches the ballot in November, those issues may not be addressed for many years. The league presented some alternative solutions including one that would build a new Jail, Courthouse and Sherriff’s office on a section of unused county owned property located directly behind Walmart.

The league has been conducting a survey and gather public opinions.

“We’re going to present those results to the commissioners at their meeting next week. We don’t know what they’ll do with it,” Troesch added.

If the board were to follow the leagues recommendation and spend an additional 6 months reviewing public input, it’s likely that a chosen solution would not make it to the voters until 2019.