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Linn County Sheriff's Office, jail to be closed due to flooding

Wall being built around building in preparation

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Linn County Supervisors have activated flood preparation measures and are beginning the process of closing down several county buildings.

County risk manager Steve Estenson, who was appointed Friday by the board as acting incident commander for the duration of the pending flood event on the Cedar and Wapsipinicon rivers, said step one was the Linn County Sheriff’s Office, which closed operations Friday.

Estenson said the county had procured more than 3,000 linear feet of HESCO barriers and 32,000 sandbags for flood preparations.

County staff with the conservation and secondary roads departments on Friday began erecting an eight-foot wall — two layers of HESCO barriers — around the Sheriff’s Office.

“Our priority right now as far as buildings is the Sheriff’s Office, that is the lowest lying building that we have,” Estenson said.

Sheriff Brian Gardner said two layers of HESCO barriers are being placed around the building. Once completed, the eight-foot wall will seal off the building, which will be closed and evacuated. Gardner said all non-essential services — civil, finance, general services and the criminal division — will cease operations once the wall is complete and will remain closed until the building is reopened.

Command staff, communications and the patrol division will be working out of the Marion Police Department.

Gardner also announced plans for the Linn County Jail, which includes fortifying the facility with a layer of HESCO barriers once inmates and staff have been evacuated this weekend. Approximately 260 to 270 inmates will be moved to alternate facilities — women will be transferred to the Washington County Jail, while male inmates will be transferred to the Anamosa State Penitentiary.

Gardner previously told The Gazette that inmates serving offenses for minor crimes will be released and allowed to serve those sentences at a later date.

Inmates that have been relocated to the out of county facilities will not have access to phones or be provided visitation privileges during what Gardner said he anticipates to be a temporary relocation. Inmates have been granted phone access before the move, Gardner said.

Gardner said new arrests will be handled through the Jones County Jail.

Meanwhile, Supervisors on Friday voted to close both the County Courthouse and Juvenile Justice Center Monday — with HESCO barriers also erected around both structures.

Estenson said the buildings will remain closed “until further notice.”

The Jean Oxley Public Services Center, 935 Second St. S.W., will close to the public Monday, with most operations and staff relocating to the Community Services Department, 1240 26th Avenue Court.

For those needing to make end-of-the-month payments to the county Treasurer’s Office, payments can be made online and postmarked envelopes will be accepted, county officials said.

For all of The Gazette's Flood 2016 coverage, please visit our flood coverage center.

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