Monroe County chief deputy sheriff Phil Parker (April 26, 2023).
Monroe County commissioners from left: Lee Jones, Penny Githens, and Julie Thomas (April 26, 2023).
The Monroe County sheriff’s office and the county commissioners are hoping that Monroe County’s jail can be included in the expansion of a pilot program that started in five other Indiana counties last year.
County commissioners voted at their Wednesday work session to “suspend” future CJRC meetings, and instead to form subgroups to focus on specific issues, like judicial process, facilities and siting, and treatment.
It was a somewhat anticipated move, even if the timing had not been certain.
News of the committee’s suspended work filtered quickly through the community. At Wednesday night’s Bloomington city council meeting, councilmember Jim Sims said during his report time, “What I’d really like to hear is an explanation—I’d like to know why, and then why now.”
Monroe County commissioner Julie Thomas (April 17, 2023)
Monroe County councilor (April 17, 2023)
Monroe circuit court court judge Darcie Fawcett (April 17, 2023)
Monroe County sheriff Ruben Marté (April 17, 2023)
DLZ’s Scott Carnegie (April 17, 2023)
Monroe County commissioner Lee Jones (April 17, 2023)
From left: Monroe County councilors Jennifer Crossley and Kate Wiltz.
Kay Weinberg with Care not Cages (April 17, 2023)
CJRC meeting on (April 17, 2023)
CJRC meeting on (April 17, 2023)
A significant bit of news out of Monday’s meeting of the community justice response committee (CJRC) was an announcement from the public mic by Bloomington’s public engagement director Kaisa Goodman.
Goodman told the committee that a tour of some county-owned land south of Catalent had been arranged for later in the week.
Touring the property, which some see as a viable site for a new jail, will be Goodman, Bloomington’s corporation counsel Beth Cate, Bloomington planning director Scott Robinson, county attorney Jeff Cockerill, jail commander Kyle Gibbons, county councilor Kate Wiltz, and possibly one other county council member.
The location of a new jail has been a wide open question since December 2022, when Bloomington’s city council unanimously rejected a rezone request for some land in the southwestern tip of the city, where county commissioners had proposed building the new jail.
The site south of Catalent, also known as the Thomson PUD, has been frequently mentioned as a possible alternative—it’s not downtown but is closer to services and is better served by public transit. County commissioners are cool to the idea, because they have reserved the acreage for the pharmaceutical company’s possible southward expansion, among other reasons.
Administrator for the county commissioners Angie Purdie
County commissioner Julie Thomas
Monroe County attorney Jeff Cockerill
County commissioner Penny Githens
At a work session held on Wednesday, Monroe County commissioners and chief sheriff’s deputy Phil Parker did not mince words when they took up the topic of transparency in connection with the selection of DLZ as the design-build firm for a new county jail.
Making a recommendation for DLZ, as the best of three respondents to an RFQ (request for proposals), had been a six-member committee: Richard Crider, Monroe County’s fleet and building manager; David Gardner, ASI Facilities Services contractor; Lee Baker, county attorney; Kyle Gibbons, jail commander; Matt Demmings, assistant jail commander; and Angie Purdie, administrator for the commissioners.
The recommendation for DLZ was presented at a county commissioners March 8 work session. On March 22, the commissioners voted to enter into a contract with DLZ.
On Wednesday, Parker told commissioners that based on statements that have been made at recent public meetings by Crider on behalf of the RFQ review committee, and by the commissioners, about their understanding of the selection of DLZ, the public would conclude that the RFQ review committee had been in perfect alignment on every aspect of the process, and its selection of DLZ.
Parker said the committee’s work had been portrayed as if “everybody on the committee was in lockstep, there was no dysfunction on the committee about that process, that everybody was in agreement, the vote was unanimous.”
About that portrayal, Parker said, “That’s simply not true.”
Monroe County facilities director Richard Crider addresses county commissioners on March 8, 2023.
Monroe County commissioners from left: Lee Jones, Penny Githens, and Julie Thomas.
The final decision has not been made, but DLZ is likely to be the firm that Monroe County uses to master plan and design a new jail facility.
At a Wednesday morning work session, Monroe County commissioners received a brief report from a committee that they created to review three responses to a request for qualifications (RFQ), to master plan and design a new jail.
DLZ was the company recommended by the committee. The other two responses came from Elavatus and RQRAW.
Monroe County director of facilities Richard Crider delivered the committee’s recommendation to the commissioners. About the three companies who responded, Crider said, “They are all very capable and proficient in what they do. And I believe we all felt like any one of them could provide a facility that meets our needs.”
But it was DLZ that got the committee’s nod: “One firm stood out above the rest and that was DLZ.” Crider added, “DLZ was the unanimous decision of the committee.”
Joining Crider on the RFQ review committee were: David Gardner, ASI Facilities Services contractor; Lee Baker, county attorney; Kyle Gibbons, jail commander; Matt Demmings, assistant jail commander; and Angie Purdie, administrator for the commissioners.
County commissioner Penny Githens (March 6, 2023).
County commissioner Julie Thomas (March 6, 2023).
County commissioner Lee Jones (March 6, 2023).
Monroe County sheriff Ruben Marté (March 6, 2023).
From left: Monroe County circuit court judge Darcie Fawcett and deputy prosecutor April Wilson (March 6, 2023).
President of the Monroe County Democratic Black Caucus, Nicole Bolden (March 6, 2023).
Monroe County councilor Jennifer Crossley (March 6, 2023).
Community justice response committee (CJRC) (March 6, 2023).
Jauston Huerta, director of FOCUS Initiatives (March 6, 2023).
At their work session this Wednesday (March 8), Monroe County commissioners are supposed to receive a recommendation on which of three firms to select, to design and build a new jail.
The three firms responded to a request for proposals (RFQ) issued by the commissioners. Reviewing and scoring the three proposals was a committee of staff from the county’s legal department, the sheriff’s office, the facilities department, and the administrator for the commissioners.
The three firms making proposals were DLZ, Elevatus, and RQAW.
The timetable for selection and approval of a company was sketched out by president of the board of county commissioners, Penny Githens, at Monday’s meeting of the community justice response committee (CJRC).
Githens said the commissioners expect to vote on the selection of one of the three firms at their March 22 regular meeting. Whichever company is selected would be invited to give a presentation to the CJRC on April 3, Githens said.
The timetable for handling the responses to the RFQ could be counted as a bit of progress towards the goal of responding to the work of two consultants, released to the county government about 20 months ago. The report described Monroe County’s jail as having “far exceeded its structural and functional life cycle.”
“Try as I may, I cannot come to grips why this low-level position, a sheriff’s office employee, is of any interest at all for the commissioners, other than to fully support it.”
That’s one sentence of a 3,500-word email that Monroe County sheriff Ruben Marté addressed on Monday night to Penny Githens, president of the board of county commissioners.
The other two commissioners are Lee Jones and Julie Thomas. The email was sent to county commissioners and other members of the community justice response committee (CJRC), among others.
When The B Square asked Githens about Marté’s email at a Tuesday noon meeting of the Monroe County Democrats’ Club, she said she had not yet read through it.
The new low-level position will have the job title of “jail technician”—a member of the staff who would be responsible for cleaning and sanitizing the jail. The jail technician would also supervise inmates who work to clean the jail.
On Thursday, the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce hosted a luncheon at the Monroe Convention Center featuring Indiana governor Eric Holcomb.
The main event highlighted Holcomb as he fielded questions from Indiana University president Pamela Whitten, as the two sat in easy chairs in front of an audience of about 450 people.
But for many in attendance, it was the remarks delivered by Cook Group president Pete Yonkman, towards the start of the program, that might have left a more lasting impression. Cook is Bloomington’s second largest employer behind Indiana University.
Yonkman said at the start that he did not have prepared speech to deliver, as he does on most occasions.
But the impromptu remarks that Yonkman did make were organized around one basic theme: Bloomington’s local leaders need to overcome their differences to make progress on important issues.
B Square file photo of Ashley Cranor at the April 4 2022 Democratic Primary forum.
Monroe County health building at Walnut and 7th streets.
When the Monroe County board of health convened its regular meeting last Thursday (Feb. 9), Sarah Ryterband was seated at the table, instead of Ashley Cranor.
Ryterband had been appointed to the board of health, as the replacement for Cranor, just the day before—by the county board of commissioners at their regular Wednesday meeting.
Cranor had apparently indicated to county commissioners she would eventually be relocating to the Pacific Northwest, and thus resigning from the board of health. But Cranor had not yet submitted her resignation.
Cranor told The B Square she had planned to attend Thursday’s board of health meeting. She wanted to convey some concerns about county codes on various health fees, including private sewage disposal systems, and for rental property inspections. Setting those fees is a part of the board’s core responsibilities, she said.
Cranor said she had wanted to ask Monroe County health administrator Lori Kelley about the county codes on fees, among other issues, and she wanted her remarks on the public record.
But Cranor said she got a phone call from the county’s legal department on Wednesday afternoon—after the commissioners appointed Ryterband as Cranor’s replacement—telling her she was no longer on the board.