Clay County residents vote on future of courthouse, jail

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VERMILLION, S.D. (KCAU) – Residents of Clay County went to the polls today to have their voices heard on a number of topics. One of them being the fate of a $41 million bond that would be used to build a new courthouse and jail.

Clay County voters have a couple of options. Vote ‘yes’ and build a new courthouse and jail, or vote ‘no’ and renovate the current courthouse.

The only problem is, one option costs $11 million more than the other.

Andy Howe is the Clay County Sheriff. He says building a new courthouse and jail is a must for both the safety of the inmates and workers.

“Our jail is over a hundred years old as is the courthouse and capacity is an issue. Our average daily population has grown beyond what our jail can hold day in and day out. Beyond that, the technology and the standards that jails should meet just simply can’t be met in our old 109-year-old jail.”

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The alternative would mean renovations to the current courthouse, which would be more expensive.

“To build a new jail and to renovate the courthouse was a $55 million project. The county commission felt it was best to go with the cheapest alternative there is. Clay County tax payers just simply cant shoulder that burden,” says Sheriff Howe.

Voters casted their ballots at the Vermillion National Guard Armory.

“Number one reason is it’s our God-given right here to be voting as an American and as a military veteran, I think it’s important to vote,” says Ines White, a Clay County voter.

“And so, like, the courthouse issue, that’s a bond that’s going to affect our property taxes and a lot of other things. The use of that building is important and what we do with that building is important.” says Erin Burrow, a Clay County voter.

If the bond passes, it’ll cost the average tax payer a little less than $400 a year for 30 years on a $250,000 house. Polls close tonight at 7 p.m. and results are expected to be released in the following hours.

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