State extends sunset date for Carlton County Jail

The county's current jail had a sunset date set for July 2023, but with the construction of the new justice center, the state granted an extension until July 2024.

FILE: Carlton County Transportation
The Carlton County Transportation Building.
Izabel Johnson / 2021 file / Pine Journal

CARLTON — The Carlton County Jail will be in use for an extra year after the state of Minnesota granted an extension to the facility's sunset date.

The measure allows the county to use the current jail to hold inmates throughout the extension, which goes until July 2024, Sheriff Kelly Lake said during a Monday, Feb. 27, Carlton County Board of Commissioners meeting.

The state is hopeful the new facility will provide better safety and well-being for people housed in the jail and address concerns from state officials about physical plant deficiencies and housing space, according to a letter written on behalf of Paul Schnell, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Corrections.

The DOC set the initial sunset date for July 2023, based on antiquated plumbing, lack of natural light, security electronics and overall poor construction. The state has no immediate concerns with extending the sunset date of the current jail as the new $65.8 million facility is being built.

While the extension was granted for a year, the letter said the state would grant a further extension should county officials need it. If the project stays on schedule, the county would need another one-month extension, as its scheduled completion date is set for August 2024.


The board also approved a change order of $758,000 for the justice center project. The increases were due to fire safety items from the state review for the project's building permit, county documents show.

Jail Administrator Paul Coughlin said the proposal was the same one presented to the board in January, after bids from the third bid package came back higher than expected. Coughlin clarified that the change was not an increase in the overall project cost, but rather a proposal to transfer expenses from the soft costs portion of the budget to the construction side.

"This is is not additional money, this is just completion of the work we talked about last month," he said.

During the January meeting, Coughlin said contingency funds for the project are set to cover the difference, with construction of the project still falling under the $65.8 million guaranteed maximum price set in July 2022. Officials have projected $9 million in soft costs for the project, which are not part of the guaranteed maximum price. Coughlin said the soft costs are included in the same pot of money as the project's contingency funds.

"The overall project value is the same, we are just transferring some from soft (costs) to construction," he said.

Dylan covers the local governments of Cloquet and Carlton County, as well as the Esko and Wrenshall school boards for the Cloquet Pine Journal.
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