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Pierce County breaks ground for new jail, sheriff’s offices

ELLSWORTH — Pierce County broke ground Thursday for a new jail and sheriff’s office at 555 W. Overlook Drive.

The symbolic first shovel of dirt flew two days after the Pierce County Board voted 13-2 to award the sale of $18.5 million general obligation bonds to Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., the lowest bidder. Eight bids were received.

The mood Thursdays seemed playful as Sheriff Nancy Hove, Chief Deputy Jason Matthys, Lt. Steve Albarado, Pierce County Board and Jail Ad Hoc Committee members, County administrator JoAnn Miller and others donned hard hats and tossed snow into the air before the official groundbreaking.

Joy was evident on the faces of many attending. Decades of debate and deliberation, plus countless committee meetings, culminated in the moment where shovels dug through the snow March 24.

“It has been over 20 years of education and dedication of people before myself of why the county needed a new jail,” Hove said. “Since I became sheriff we have been talking with the elected and educating many ad hoc committees to get to this point. The Sheriff’s Office staff and other county employees have put thousands of hours in gathering information and attending meetings to make this happen. I thank everyone that was involved in this huge decision.”

The bond interest rate is 2.2110 percent. The tax levy increase for the entire 15-year length of the borrowing period is just over $809 per $100,000 of equalized property valuation for the 15-year term of the loan, said Joe Murray of Springsted,a financial consulting firm.

In Thursday’s vote, Supervisors Bill Schroeder, Hager City, and Cecil Bjork, River Falls, voted no. Supervisors Ruth Wood, River Falls, and Brian O’Connell, Ellsworth, were absent.

Murray had estimated last April that the interest rate would be 3.64 percent and the projected tax levy increase in 2017 would be about $36.50 for a property of $100,000 in equalized valuation with a projected tax levy increase for the entire 15-year length of the borrowing period at $914 per $100,000 in equalized valuation.

Murray explained that compared to one year ago, the total debt service amount with interest is $106,000 less than projected, and that includes the added $500,000 to the project cost.

Bid solicitation and awards are in progress, with construction set to occur April 2016 through May 2017. Occupancy is slated for Summer 2017.

The 55,600-square-foot facility, located off Highway 65 near Shopko in Ellsworth, will house a 16,565-square-foot 80-bed jail pod with potential to expand to 120 beds, a 15,347-square-foot jail administration area, 16,869-square-foot sheriff’s department and a 3,908-square-foot lobby, plus mechanical and electrical spaces.

For more information and project updates, click on the Jail tab at the Pierce County website,

Sarah Nigbor

Sarah J. Nigbor serves as a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia, a position she began in April 2017. She joined RiverTown Multimedia in October 2013 as a news reporter for the New Richmond News, before being appointed editor of the Pierce County Herald in February 2015. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Spanish and French in 2001. She completed a minor in journalism in 2004. 

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