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Funding approved for the St. Croix Correctional Center project

For more than 30 years, two temporary mobile structures have provided the St. Croix County Correctional Center with much needed housing and educational space but with time the structures have degraded, compelling the Department of Corrections to request funding to replace the structures.

The two structures, which have long outlived their 15 to 20 year life expectancy, will soon be replaced because the legislature approved $3.2 million for a Housing Replacement project at the Correctional Center in the 2011-13 biennial capital budget.

Now that the long awaited funding has been approved, the Department of Corrections is wasting no time in moving forward with the project.

On Feb. 15, the state Building Commission approved $80,000 in planning funds to create a design study for the project, said Linda Eggert, DOC's public information director.

Although steps in making the project a reality are being made, many more need to be taken and approved by the Building Commission before the modular units can be consigned to history.

Once the study is complete, the Building Commission must approve the design before voting on whether to release the money for construction.

If the commission releases the funds for construction, a competitive bidding process according to state rules and regulations must be followed, and construction is likely to begin in April 2013.

The housing replacement project will go towards the construction of a two-story addition of the facility at the intersection of County Road K and KK.

The 16,200 square foot addition will provide housing space for 35 to 40 inmates, educational classrooms and office space. The project will also include a secure holding cell, storage space and emergency shelter for severe weather.

Correctional Center Superintendent Jo Skalski said she is very excited to finally get the new addition built, something that has been planned for years but was never approved by the Building Commission.

According to a Building Commission report, the DOC anticipates that the Correctional Center project will result in an operating increase of approximately $81,000. This includes increases in annual fuel and utilities, and increases in permanent property and property risk management premiums.

The increased costs are expected to be offset by a reduction in on-going maintenance and repair of the facilities.

In addition to improving the overall safety for the inmates and staff, the project also creates economic stimulus for the state and local economy.

"The proposed $1 billion in the state building program in 2011-13 will result in approximately $3.4 billion in economic activity and will sustain over 28,000 jobs," according to the Building Commission report sent to the legislature last spring.

Skalski said she thinks the project will generate revenue for the local community once it's in the construction phase.