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Work almost completed on new, state-of-the-art Lee County jail

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DIXON, Ill. (WTVO) — A little more than a year after breaking ground on a roughly $17 million Law Enforcement Center, Lee County police will soon be moving into their new facility.

The hard work is done and some cosmetic details are all that’s left.

Lee County Sheriff John Simonton says he’s more than ready for the new building, located at 280 E. Progress Drive.

“You see the smile on my face right now? I am very excited!” he said.

Simonton couldn’t wait to show off the county’s new 36,000 square foot Law Enforcement Center, something he says has been desperately needed for years.

Lee County Jail Superintendent Jack Skrogstad agrees. “Well, I would say, ever since I started, back in 1989, that’s when we needed it.”

The new facility has larger blocks to keep inmates separated, and instead of paying for females to be housed in other counties, the new jail has room for female inmates, which will save the county about $1 million a year.

“Now, we can meet the standards from a liability standpoint,” Simonton said. “So, we couldn’t meet the standards in the jail before, as far as housing inmates securely, doing the things we need to do by the Illinois Department of Corrections standards.”

While keeping the inmates safe is a key priority, the facility will also protect those who work there.

“[We’ll be able to] properly detain and lock up inmates and properly provide a better safety environment for the employees,” Skrogstad said.

The new jail will have its own medical room and a multi-purpose room for things like a library and a chapel.

The state-of-the-art building also has some technology upgrades: family members can visit with inmates remotely, without leaving their homes, by downloading an app on their phone or tablet.

“So, the inmate can speak to their family member at different times of the day or even the evening, and not have to worry about coming in during regular visiting hours, Saturday, Sunday, on the weekends, for two and a half hours and having a 15 minute visit,” Simonton said.

Inmates may be moving into the new jail sooner than expected.

“We had the official groundbreaking August 1st of last year,” said Ringland and Johnson construction superintendent Tim Daley said. “We’ll have substantial completion at the end of this month, so we’re a little over a year. We’re going to come in at budget and we’re going to finish three months early.”

Officials still need to make sure everything is working correctly, and then the inmates could be moved over by late October or November.

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