By RICK HAYES
---- — MT. VERNON — Sheriff Roger Mulch told members of the Public Safety Committee on Wednesday he is still awaiting word from ICE (Immigrations Customs & Enforcement) officials on a date for an inspection of the Jefferson County Justice Center.
ICE prisoners were taken from the county jail last December following a medical issues. Since that time, the county has laid off several employees, including two deputies at last month's full board meeting.
"We're just waiting," Mulch told the Committee. "The agent in charge of the assessment talked to one of their officials from Washington, and is waiting approval on a date. It's been 10 days since we received that information."
Mulch indicated the inspection would take about one-half day. Following the inspection, a recommendation would be made, and if everything meets with federal approval, ICE prisoners could be returned to Jefferson County in as little as 48 hours.
"We're exactly where we need to be," Mulch said. "If we get the green light, we should get detainees back almost immediately." Mulch added that preliminary discussions with ICE officials also indicate the county should receive about the same number of detainees that were incarcerated previous to the pullout.
Mulch also reported at the meeting the department has received a nearly $78,000 grant from the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority for communication equipment. The STARCOM equipment will include a base radio and portable radios, the sheriff said. Of the 165 applications received by the Authority, only two counties (Clark was the other) in this part of the state was funded. Mulch said the money would be available to the county within six to 10 weeks.
During the Highway Committee meeting, a preliminary engineering agreement for Falcon Lane Bridge was approved. County Engineer Brandon Simmons reported the i-beams on the bridge are rusting out. The $22,000 project will be let in June 2014.
The Committee also approved road district and county motor fuel tax bids and the monthly fuel bid was awarded to Synenergy.
Simmons said the Wells Bypass Bridge project has been completed; a pre-job meeting has been scheduled for May 7 with E.T. Simonds for the Log Cabin Lane overlay; and it would be a few weeks before the Malecki Road Bridge project is completed.