What could be next for a new Jackson Co. jail with costs expected to rise

CENTRAL POINT, Ore. – It’s a project decades in the making.

Jackson County Sheriff Nathan Sickler said a new jail is needed now, more than ever.

“At some point, a new jail will need to be build because this building cannot last forever,” he said. “A lot of our livability issues can be directly contributed to the lack of jail space and the inability to hold offenders when they repeatedly violate the law.”

In May 2020, voters soundly rejected, 70-to-30, a ballot measure raising property taxes to fund the jail.

Sheriff Sickler said the start of the pandemic significantly hurt the county’s efforts.

The 800-bed facility was expected to cost $166 million, located on land already purchased by the county, near the sheriff’s office off Highway 62.

If the county wants to go forward with building a new jail, county administrator Danny Jordan said, they’ll need a way to fund it.

“Although the next project on our list we’re going to have some help from the public, if it goes, which is the new jail,” he said. “We do have earmarked $60 million from this reserve to go toward a new jail.”

That $60 million has been in reserve since the proposal went on the ballot.

County commissioner Colleen Roberts said the next step for a jail has not been identified yet, but she expects it’ll cost more this time.

That’s something the sheriff admits is a concern.

“That could be a game changer if the cost is so high that it puts this project out of reach,” Sheriff Sickler said. “My thought is if we can jump on this project now, instead of five years from now or six years from now, I still think we’ll be ahead of the game.”

Sheriff Sickler said meetings with the board of commissioners on new cost estimates for the jail could happen in the near future.

He also believes it’s important to get the community’s input in the early stages.

“I‘d like to see a survey go out and basically do a poll of where we stand,” Sheriff Sickler said. “So they can kind of drive and give us some direction of where we need to go with this project next.”

Sickler tells NBC5 the process to get the previous measure on the ballot took roughly two years.

He expects it will take a similar amount of time, if not shorter, to get something before voters.

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NBC5 News reporter Zachary Larsen grew up in Surprise, Arizona. He graduated from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. At ASU, Zack interned at Arizona Sports 98.7FM and Softball America. During his Junior year, Zack joined the ASU Sports Bureau. He covered the Fiesta Bowl, the Phoenix Open and major basketball tournaments. Zack enjoys working out, creative writing, music, and rooting for his ASU Sun Devils.
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