The Marshall County Holding Corporation held its annual meeting on Monday. The board approved new member Marty Oosterbaan to fill the vacancy of John Zentz. The Board approved the continuation of each incumbent with President Carol Brown, new member and Vice-President Oosterbaan, and Secretary-Treasurer Kent Borggren.
Marshall County Attorney Jim Clevenger explained the entity as a single corporation created primarily by statute to serve a function as a funding mechanism for the construction and maintenance of prisons. It abides by the corporate rules set forth by the State of Indiana. Since it is a public legal entity, they hold an annual meeting.
Marshall County Auditor Julie Fox presented a reputable report to the board with a final cash balance for local income tax (LIT) for special purposes of $9,451,168.21 as of May 7, 2022. The opening balance for 2022 was $9,641,242.98. Total receipts for 2022 to date as of May 7 was $1,233,952.57 with a total disbursed of $1,424,027.34.
This balance reflects a low interest rate that Marshall County benefited from when refinancing the county in 2013. Marshall County had the option to lock in a reduced interest rate again earlier this year, but did not not choose to refinance. Pending state legislation could impact SAI next year, when government leaders will explore their options again.
Five years of payments remain for the bonds that will mature in 2027. The earliest Marshall County can repay the bonds is August 2022.
Invoices for 2021 are paid in full. Fox received the call for 2022 on Monday which will be addressed in the next billing cycle.
Sheriff Hassel’s budget depends on LIT funding. Maintenance expenses alone at the prison total over $2 million a year.
The current jail was built in 2008. Sheriff Hassel informed council that several major projects had been completed.
The obsolete main module of the fire panel and a faulty annunciator panel at the public entrance were replaced.
Sprinklers and piping have been removed in the server room. The domestic water pipes above the servers have been removed and relocated. The fire sprinklers have been replaced with a dry system that will protect the servers.
One of the three large UPS systems was placed and moved into the electrical room. The UPS system provides continuous power in the event of a power outage or blackout when the backup generator comes on. This ensures that inmates can be released from their cells in the event of a fire or other emergency.
The standby regulator voltage regulator has been replaced.
Two booster pumps were rebuilt; one engine was rebuilt and the other was replaced.
The water pipes in the evidence room have been removed and relocated. This protects evidence from potential water damage. According to Sheriff Hassel, Starke County had a pipe burst that damaged evidence in their evidence room. This potential destruction was averted for Marshall County.
The cold room and walk-in freezer lights have been replaced with brighter, energy efficient LED lights. Both units will eventually need to be replaced. Quotations are sought.
Two mixer taps in the boiler room and the kitchen-laundry were replaced.
The water softener system has been replaced and the plumbing has been improved. The tank was leaking, rather than repairing, replacement approved by Marshall County Commissioners.
The main water heater which provides hot water for the kitchen – laundry room, administrative area, medical unit and reservation area has been replaced due to a crack. The new system is a two-boiler, three-tank system that increases efficiency and is more reliable.
Current and future projects include upgrades of all four radio consoles from the old XP system to System 10.
The computer room at the Marshall County Correctional Facility will provide backup to all of Marshall County, which is part of the Continuity of Operations Plan (COOP). A full console will also be placed in the Emergency Management Agency office for backup.
All console computers are being replaced with new ones and will be placed on towers rather than under desks.
The prison video system will also be replaced and upgraded. “It’s critical when you have an inmate dying on top of you. Everybody wants to see the video. Did you do your homework? Did you start CPR? Did you call the ambulance right away?” Sheriff Hassel.
The company that has been approved to upgrade this video system has recommended an upgrade to the intercom systems. Sheriff Hassel will request additional credit. “Each cell has an intercom and that’s how they call for help when something is wrong.” Video and audio are captured together.
Future heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) upgrades and replacements are also future plans; one for cooking and the other for booking and medical.
Supply chain issues and rising costs continue to strain the existing budget. Sheriff Hassel said it is not efficient to wait for something to break down; they must take a proactive approach to maintenance. “We try to be more proactive rather than waiting for something to break because we know it takes forever to order and install it.”
Although the prison population was 149 on Monday, at any one time the facility could house more than 200 people. It is important to maintain the operation of the installation.
Attorney Clevenger echoed his praise reported at the Marshall County Commissioners meeting earlier Monday morning on the collaborative teamwork of the Marshall County Court System, Probation Office, District Attorney’s Office, of the Sheriff’s Department, Community Corrections, and all other entities that have increased efficiency and avoided intervention resulting from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) class action lawsuit.
“The lawyer who helped us with the ACLU class action case reported that his office was involved in some of them and that he also knows other lawyers who have been involved. As far as they know, we are the only county to have had an ACLU class action lawsuit that did not end with some kind of ACLU intervention. Attorney Clevenger emphasized the team effort.
Auditor Fox noted that an expansion of the prison may still be needed in the future. There are 233 beds. The highest number of inmates at any time was 308. The goal is to keep the prison at a capacity of 80% of the population to comply with requirements, including gender separation and the need to keep some inmates away from each other. These classification requirements are set forth by the State of Indiana.
In the event of overcrowding, the jail has memorandums of understanding (MOAs) with Elkhart County and Fulton County to transfer inmates at an agreed cost until the population shrinks to accommodate housing.
The board approved and ratified the completion and filing of the certificate of compliance.
By Jamie Fleury Pilot News Editor
Pilot News Group Photo/Jamie Fleury
Marshall County Holding Corporation holds an annual meeting Monday. Pictured, L-R: Marshall County Sheriff Matthew Hassel, Vice President Marty Oosterbaan, President Carol Brown, Secretary/Treasurer Kent Borggren, Marshall County Auditor Julie Fox, and County Attorney by Marshall Jim Clevenger.