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Archive for Wednesday, January 22, 1992

DETENTION CENTER PLANS STILL ON HOLD

January 22, 1992

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Plans for the regional juvenile detention center remain on hold as Douglas County waits for a state commitment to help build the center.

County Administrator Chris McKenzie said he is waiting on the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services to come through with 90 percent funding for the $1.5 million construction cost of the detention center. SRS agreed to provide the funding last year, but it hasn't forwarded a contract to the county to finalize the deal.

Last week, SRS indicated it would temporarily withhold the financing until after a Kansas House hearing Thursday on the impact of federal mandates on the state, such as the detention center.

Because of the delay, McKenzie said he would wait before reviewing the 75 applications for the center's director job. He said he informed the applicants that the review process would be lengthy before the SRS delay, and he would contact them again if the delay continued much longer.

Also on hold is a contract between the county and Abend Singleton Associates, a Westwood company that designs detention centers.

"There is no purpose in signing the contract without the SRS contract," McKenzie said.

And without Abend Singleton on board, the county is stymied in choosing a site for the detention center. The county commission said they were considering four sites in Lawrence, but Abend Singleton would be instrumental in picking the location.

Despite the problems with the state, McKenzie said the county's legislative delegation has worked hard toward resolving the impasse. McKenzie and Commissioner Louie McElhaney also will take an active role in the issue, as they plan to testify at the House hearing Thursday in Topeka.

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