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Hundreds of area residents toured the new Antelope County Jail on Saturday to get a first-hand look at the 30-bed facility.
Neligh resident Jill Bates repeatedly used the word impressive in describing the facility and the safety features.
“It’s so impressive to me all the technology they have - all of the cameras,” she said. “Even the cells themselves have to be up to code. It’s unbelievable for a small town like Neligh to have something like this."
Open to the public for the first time, tours were given by Antelope County Sheriff’s Department employees, Neligh Police Officers and representatives from Prochaska & Associates.
"It’s a definitely step up from the 6th Street facility we’re going to be leaving,” said Mike Wright, Neligh Police Chief.
The facility consists of seven double-occupancy jail cells, four single-occupancy cells, two dormitory cells and two single handicap-accessible cells for observation and detox. There’s also a recreation room, several interview and meeting rooms, full kitchen, library and several computerized control rooms.
Wright said the existing jail is the size of the the new library and kitchen, showing just how small of space officers had to work with and the possibility of dangerous situations.
"You really can’t put a price on someone’s safety,” Wright said. “There’s not an open checkbook, but it’s not just staff safety. Every inmate here is someone’s daughter, son, mother, father. They’ve done wrong and have to pay to society their price, but they have to be treated with respect and have a facility they feel safe in.
Wright said the Neligh Police Department and Antelope County Sheriff’s Department have a strong relationship and utilizes each other’s services regularly. The Neligh Police currently have an area in the old jail and will have a larger area in the new facility to continue working together.
“This will make it easier for us to do our jobs. It’ll be safer for our officers, the public and the inmates,” Wright said. “There’s no more hauling a combative person up and down a flight of stairs or working about them getting out and hurting staff, which has happened at the existing facility.”
Wright said they plan to go live with the 911 system from the facility on March 10 and to occupy the jail as of March 11.