Jail millage passes

ALPENA — It was close, but voters in Alpena County approved a 20-year millage that will cover the payment of bonds to be used for a new jail built near Alpena County Regional Airport.

The millage passed 2,855-2,318. The final vote total will be finalized by the board of canvassers, which meets today.

The millage, which is for one mill, also will generate enough revenue to increase the number of correction officers who will man the new jail when it is complete.

Sheriff Steve Kieliszewski, who has been promoting the need for a new jail for the last two months, said he appreciated the support from those who voted for the new jail, which he said will be state-of the-art and provide better protection to inmates, employees and the community as a whole. He said a lot of time and hard work was put into the project and if it wasn’t for the hard work and dedication of the jail committee and his staff, the vote could have turned out differently.

“Obviously we’re thrilled and I want to thank the voters of the county for listening to us and voting for this,” Kieliszewski said. “There are a lot of people to thank who made this possible.”

He named jail committee Chairman Tony Suszek, Undersheriff Terry King, Sgt. Scott Modrzynski, Sgt. Bob LaBarge, the county commissioners and the consultants who worked on the project.

“I can’t tell you how many hours everyone put into this,” he said.”

There was some confusion about the millage and ballot language because it mentioned that a small percentage of the money collected within the Alpena Downtown Development Authority would be collected by the DDA. Thanks to many meetings and a forum, Kieliszewski was able to clear up the confusion about the DDA TIF and he said he believed that was key to getting enough votes to build the new facility, which will be built between the airport and Sportsmen’s Drive on M-32. He said he believed there was a lot of support for the millage, but was unsure how the vote would turn out Tuesday morning.

“I felt confident in the morning and then as the day went on I just had no idea what would happen,” Kieliszewski said. “I’m actually happy it’s over.”

Kieliszewski said he believed the transparency of the committee and sheriff’s office helped convince voters. He said he intends to keep people up to date as plans for the jail are completed and the construction process moves forward.

“Transparency is important to us and we’ll continue that. We’ll be open to the public and let them know exactly what is going on and where we’re at with things,” he said.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews.