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Clay County Rejects $41 Million Bond For A New Jail And Courthouse

Clay County Courthouse

Voters in Clay County rejected a $41 million bond issue Tuesday. The bond would have funded a new courthouse and jail in Vermillion.  

The current courthouse was built in 1912. The jail is no longer up to code and lacks the space for current needs. Clay County commissioners say they will have to close the jail to avoid lawsuits. 

Travis Mockler is the chairman of the Clay County Commission. He says the jail has room for 20 inmates. The county houses about five inmates per month elsewhere. 

“We spend about $10,000 to $15,000 a month, housing those five prisoners elsewhere, but if we close the jail, our Sheriff, he's run the numbers. He said over that 30-year period of what that bond was going to cost if we were to house our prisoners outside of the county, we were going to spend almost $41 million.” 

Opponents of the bond issue say the courthouse should be renovated rather than replaced.